Latest: Drugs gang jailed after being caught in police sting in Cookstown

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A gang of drug dealers caught in a police sting operation in Cookstown were each jailed for a year on Thursday.

Dungannon Crown Court Judge Gemma Loughran told the men, that the drug trade was a scourge and a damaging evil on society, and that it was the duty of the justice system to protect society from this evil.

Judge Loughran said the affect of the drug culture on the health of the community was well known, a perfect example of which was the heart attack suffered by a fifth accused, resulting his past drug addiction. He was jailed for nine months.

The judge said each were linked to the chain of supply in the drug trade, and that they had played a vital role in this chain which must be reflected in their sentencing.

However, Judge Loughran added that she was prepared to give them a substantial discount for their guilty pleas saving both court time and expense, in particular the expense of training an undercover officer. In this case, the identity of the undercover police officer involved remained secure as he was not require to give evidence in open court.

Earlier prosecution lawyer Michael McAleer said police mounted ‘Operation Randolf’ between late April and early June last year, to tackle the supply of Heroin in the Cookstown area of Co Tyrone.

Mr McAleer said that an undercover officer known as Ross, had a telephone which he used to make calls and texts to record each of the ten drug deals involved. He also had audio and video equipment used to record the various deals.

He added that while four of the accused could be seen to be acting together as a gang, another accused was acting outside the group.

“It is clear in all of the circumstances that Rolo was acting outside the group while the others were part of a gang,” said Mr McAleer.

Jailed for a year, to be followed by a further year on licenced parole were 32-year-old Luis Felipe Damas, 40-year-old

Patricio Jorge Humberto Santas, 35-year-old Helio Goncalves and 49-year-old Antonio Joe Gregorio Sousa.

Given nine months, with nine months on licence, was 49-year-old Carlos Manuel Rolo.

All five accused had addresses with the Simon Community in various locations throughout Northern Ireland.