FOUR women have been arrested as part of an investigation into a suspected drug ring in a North-East prison. 

The investigation was launched at Durham Prison after reports that drones were being used to transport drugs into the secure facility. 

It was also reported that drugs were being taken into the prison during visits to the premises. 

Four women were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with the suspected drug dealing on Wednesday.

Police carried out a series of dawn raids at addresses across Sunderland and Teesside yesterday morning. 

The women - aged 20, 31, 32 and 62, were arrested while a total of £1,500 in cash was seized, alongside two drones which were found in the properties. 

The women remain in police custody at this time.

Detective Sergeant Tommy Maughan from the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team (RART) said: “We are committed to working alongside our partners to make sure those involved in serious and organised crime are pursued.

“Anyone found to be helping inmates carry out their illicit enterprises from their prison cells can expect to find themselves in serious trouble.

“Our message is clear – this type of activity will not be tolerated and anyone involved will be actively pursued by authorities and could even find themselves behind bars.

“Under the banner of Operation Sentinel, our joined up approach to tackling serious and organised crime across the region, we will continue to pursue offenders, bring them to justice and look to seize all assets associated with their illicit activity.”