A man has been jailed after evading capture police for 10 years in what Cleveland Police described as its biggest ever drugs investigation.

Christopher Walker, 45, is the final member of a huge drugs gang to face the courts after avoiding police for a decade.

While many of his co-conspirators were arrested and jailed with 31 receiving more than 230 years’ jail sentences between them, Walker was nowhere to be seen.

He was eventually arrested in Lancashire last August, ten years later.

Earlier this month he was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs at Teesside Crown Court and has now been jailed for 10 years.

The Northern Echo: Christopher Walker.Christopher Walker. (Image: CLEVELAND POLICE)

Speaking after sentencing, Inspector Colin Helyer said: “The capture, arrest, conviction and sentencing of Walker brings an extremely satisfactory end to Operation Cobweb – one of Cleveland Police’s longest-running and most complex enquiries into the supply of Class A drugs.”

Organised Crime Unit Chief Inspector Sarah Robinson added: “My officers worked tirelessly to secure convictions for the other gang members who were dealt with previously.

“Today’s result proves police will never give up and we will use every available resource to bring to justice those who peddle drugs and bring misery to our communities.”

Operation Cobweb is one of Cleveland Police’s biggest ever drugs enquiries and began after what officers believed to be a routine call from a resident reporting drug dealing.

But officers discovered a highly organised gang which was flooding Teesside with heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and MDMA on an industrial scale.

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Tens of thousands of pounds were being transported across the Pennines to the North West with people previously unknown to police and often in full time jobs acting as couriers making around 100 trips back and forth.

The investigation resulted in cross-force work with Greater Manchester Police seizing large amounts of drugs, cutting agents, cash and unregistered pay as you go burner phones.

Raids took place across the Durham, Teesside, North Yorkshire and Manchester with 320 officers involved on one day.