In November 2010, officers raided a number of properties in connection with alleged drug conspiracies.
They uncovered 2.25 kilos of cocaine and 23 kilos of mixing agent and a press machine for preparing cocaine. Officers also seized £50,000 in cash, and a Jaguar car.
Today, four men have been jailed for their part in the supply of drugs.
Daniel Chisolm 51, of Franklin Street, Sunderland; John Somerville 53, of Sherringham Avenue, Kenton, Newcastle Upon Tyne; Joseph Lewins 54, of Malvern Road, Washington were found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Chisolm and Somerville were both sentenced to 12 years, Lewins was sentenced to 9 years.
A fourth man, Ronald Moon, 46, of Severn Road in Liverpool, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to 15 months.
The men were arrested as part of Operation United, an intelligence-led drugs operation carried out by Northumbria Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit.
Their trial included evidence given by former Newcastle United footballer Michael Chopra.
Chopra, who now plays for Blackpool, told jurors he had given the money to Somerville, who was helping him sort out his debts with loan sharks, so it could be passed on to creditors in Liverpool.
The court heard Chopra’s bosses at Ipswich town organised a loan through the Professional Footballers Association so he could pay back debts which by then stood at around £300,000.
Superintendent Steve Howe of Northumbria Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit said: “This has been an excellent outcome for the team and shows the efforts the force is making to remove drugs from the streets and combat organised crime. “Operation United is one of a number of ongoing drugs operations and we warn anyone involved in the supply of drugs - it doesn’t stop here, we are taking action and we will seek you out.
“We want to reinforce the message to these people and to the public that crime simply does not pay.”