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DRUGS GANG CAGED FOR 60 YEARS; Crooks had huge haul.

A GANG of drug pushers led by a high- living "Mr Big" were yesterday jailed for nearly 60 years.

Mastermind Martin Harris was sentenced to 14 years in prison for running the ring - aimed at flooding the streets of Wales with drugs.

Eight other members of the gang were also jailed bringing the total sentence to a total of 59 years and nine months.

Harris, 35, claimed to be out of work - but was the "Mr Big" believed to have made up to pounds 4million running the ring from his fashionable Cardiff dockside home.

But Harris was trapped when one of his gang turned police informer. The National Crime Squad set up Operation Recibo to trap the gang.

Judge Peter Jacobs yesterday branded their trade as "a traffic in human misery".

Judge Jacobs said: "This was one of the most serious conspiracies to supply drugs which has hit south Wales."

Harris was described as the "mastermind" in the evil racket making up to pounds 4million.

He even used his own father Norman, 56, as his right-hand man.

Cardiff Crown Court heard he was "awash with money" even though he claimed to be jobless.

Judge Jacobs ordered the confiscation of more than pounds 35,000 from Harris. He told Harris: "You enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. "You were awash with money - purchasing expensive cars and enjoying intercontinental holidays. "Your dealing involved regular payments of pounds 50,000 to pounds 80,000. You describe your participants as 'little workers'."

But National Crime Squad officers smashed the ring by bugging his car and seizing his drugs accounts book.

Harris confessed to handling a massive haul of drugs including 50,000 Ecstasy tablets; two tonnes of cannabis resin; 2kg of cocaine; and 30kg of amphetamine.

The court heard the drugs had a wholesale value of more than pounds 4 million. And the estimated street value of the drugs dealt by the gang is more than pounds 5million.

The men were jailed for sentences ranging from three-and-a-half years.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 8, 2000
Words:332
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