The leader of a major drugs ring and nine other members are today serving a total of more than 50 years in jail after police smashed their cocaine and cannabis network.

Stephen Robert Small, 29, ran the gang that brought hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs into York, bringing misery to their community while netting the criminals huge sums of money.

He was at the centre of a network of safe houses, drug and cash caches across the city and he exploited the vulnerabilities of some to bring them into his web of crime, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Today, the Press can reveal for the first time how North Yorkshire Police mounted a massive surveillance operation lasting more than a year that cracked the ring to bring its members to justice.

They seized more than £300,000 of cocaine, cannabis and other recreational drugs, and £150,000 in cash. Altogether, 120 officers and police staff were involved at different stages.

The operation culminated in two long-running trials at Teesside Crown Court that ended with Small, of Dodsworth Avenue, York, being convicted of four conspiracies to supply drugs and one charge of money laundering and being sentenced to 12 years in jail.

A court order banned all publication of the cases until the end of the second trial.

Daniel Fisher, 35, of Bradford, and Benjamin Toothill, 30, of Harrogate, were each given ten years.

They worked together to supply drugs to Small for him to sell through his network.

Seven more, all from the York gang, were jailed at the end of the first trial.

Det Insp Matt Walker said: “These sentences bring to an end a long, complex investigation that demonstrates North Yorkshire Police’s commitment to tackling serious organised crime. The people involved in this organised crime group calculated and set up their business to supply drugs into the community bringing about misery.”

Two more men received suspended sentences for their part in the drugs ring, as did Clare Louise Allan, 34, of Cambridge Street, Holgate, York, whom Judge Tony Briggs said Small had exploited so he could launder drug money through her bank account.

He got her to pay for a £4,240 trip to Las Vegas for him and his brother to see a boxing bout and refunded her with drugs money.

“That was a miserable thing to do,” the judge said. “He put her in considerable danger.”

Small had in some cases chosen to involve people who were “vulnerable and certainly not always capable of making up their own minds” in his crimes.

A fourth man received a conditional discharge.

As he finished sentencing the 14 convicted in the two trials which started in March, Judge Briggs said: “Overall, the picture is one indicating significant local distribution.”

The juries saw undercover videos taken of the gang at work and heard details of the many raids and seizures at properties in York, Harrogate and elsewhere.

They heard how one man sold at least £9,000 of cocaine in just over a week, of bags of cash being transported between safe houses and drug meets, of a wide variety of drugs being brought into York through the Harrogate side of Small’s activities and of apparently legitimate businesses being used as cover for the underworld trade.

Police brought another 17 people to justice in separate cases resulting from the operation.

For Small, the only defendant to be in both trials, Dominic Bell claimed most of the dealing had been in cannabis, not cocaine.

He had been remanded in prison after his conviction in the first trial and found it a “salutary” experience.

Apart from Small, Toothill and Fisher, ten other people were convicted of various drugs charges as part of the conspiracy. Allan was the only one convicted of a non-drugs charge.

Three people who were also defendants in either the first or the second trial were acquitted of all the charges they faced. They were: Paul Clements, 44, of Hope Street, Walmgate, York; James Basford, 29, of Arthurs Avenue, Harrogate, and Thong Hoang, 40, of Pudsey, Leeds.

Roll of shame

• Joiner David Atkinson, 34, of Andrew Drive, Huntington, was jailed for six years. He sold £9,000 to £10,000 in cocaine deals in eight days.

Judge Briggs said: “You are clearly an intelligent man and you knew the risk of getting involved in this. You were a retail seller on a regular basis.”

Mitigating, Michael Neosfytou said Atkinson had run a lawful business successfully for years until he was made bankrupt in 2009. He had become a drug user who supplied to get cheaper drugs for himself. The money he raised went to his dealer

• Daniel Fisher, 35, of High Meadows, Willsden, Bradford, was jailed for ten years. His barrister Mark Stevens said he had been desperate for cocaine to feed his own habit and a history of mental illness. He was on a suspended sentence for possessing a taser gun illegally and drugs offences during the conspiracy

• Former trainee accountant Benjamin Toothill, 30, of Holly Court, Cavendish Avenue, Harrogate, was jailed for ten years. His barrister Jon Anders said he had been privately educated and had shown “much promise” until he got involved in drugs

York Press: Daniel Taal
• Daniel Taal, 26, of White Rose Avenue, New Earswick, was jailed for 30 months. He prepared drugs for onward sale. On October 14, he arrived home during a police raid on his home and immediately alerted Small by text message. Police found more than £20,000 of cannabis and drug equipment inside

York Press: Andrew Beard
• Andrew Paul Beard, 35, of Hewley Avenue, Tang Hall, was jailed for three years. The judge said his role included regular contact with Small and provided practical assistance with his van during the series of police raids. Mitigating, Glenn Parsons said Beard had run a business legitimately and claimed his role was limited to letting others use his rented unit

York Press: Lee Quinlivan
• Lee Sean Quinlivan, 33, of Hawthorn Terrace, New Earswick, was jailed for 18 months. The judge said he sold to more than 26 people. For Quinlivan, Mark Partridge said he had benefited very little if at all from the conspiracy

York Press: Simon Turner
• Simon Turner, 32, of Pottery Lane, York, was jailed for 21 months. The judge said police found drugs at his house twice in two months and he was in regular contact with Small and Beard. For him, Nicholas Barker said he had been pressurised to take part in the conspiracy because he had run up cannabis debts

• Forklift driver Paul Garside, 43, of Bell Farm Avenue, York, was jailed for 21 months. Andrew Stranex, mitigating, said Garside played a lesser part in the conspiracy. He had been a cannabis user for years and had a medical condition that required him being hospitalised. He also had family responsibilities and had been unemployed since being made redundant in October 2011

York Press: Edward Peart
• Edward Glenn Peart, 36, of Bell Farm Avenue, York, was jailed for 27 months. The judge said: “You clearly played a significant role in this matter. You provided a refuge for a lot of drugs in a situation where the police net was obviously closing in.” Mitigating, Emma Bennett said other than providing a safe house, he was not involved in the conspiracy

• Dennis Stephen Patton, 58, of Pottery Lane, was given a two year-conditional discharge for his part in the York network.

• Oliver Hawksworth, 28, of Burton Leonard, Harrogate, was given a six-month suspended prison sentence. His barrister, Andrew Haslam, said Hawksworth had been a courier and his employer in his job thought highly of him. The court heard he was only involved in the conspiracy on one day.

• Robbie Burns, 33, of Alcuin Avenue, Tang Hall, York, was given a two-year sentence suspended for 12 months. The judge said he played a lesser role. Mitigating, Ruth Cranidge said Burns had lung and blood problems and had epileptic fits. He had been admitted to hospital during his trial.