THREE men unwittingly took part in the supply of cocaine to an undercover police officer at various rendezvous around a town centre.

Luke Arnell, Jordan Longworth and Lee Maiden have all received 36-month prison sentences for what was said to be, “almost a polished enterprise”, which a judge said saw them operate like a “tag team” at times.

Durham Crown Court heard the test purchase officer, ‘Matty’, purported to be a cocaine user and made contact to arrange to buy the class A drug, in early September, last year.

He was to make several more purchases over following weeks, having been given a number to ring.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said he would be directed to various locations around Peterlee town centre, including bookmakers’ premises and car parks, where the hand overs took place.

He would be handed two bags containing a white substance in return for four £20 notes but was also offered three for £100.

Mr Dryden said tests confirmed the contents were cocaine and in amounts of up to 790mg, of a fairly high-purity, per bag.

All three were arrested on October 23, and, when interviewed, made no replies.

Mr Dryden said the Crown believes the defendants were acting as low-level street dealers, but performed, “a significant role”.

Arnell, 33, of Quantock Place, and Longworth, 26, formerly of Scafell Close, both Peterlee, and 24-year-old Maiden, of Sycamore Avenue, Blackhall Colliery, admitted various charges relating to the supply of a class A drug and being concerned in the supply.

Counsel for the defendants, Paul Cleasby for Arnell, Martin Scarborough, for Longworth, and Chris Knox, for Maiden, claimed their roles were less than “significant”.

But, Judge Ray Singh said: “You were clearly acting together and you were perfectly aware of the numbers and the scale of the operation.

“You were working almost as a tag team. It was almost a polished enterprise.

“Undoubtedly, you were motivated by some financial advantage.”