An evil drugs gang netted up to £6m - using six-year-old children as lookouts.

Tonight the mob - who used the cash to buy expensive sports cars, luxury holidays and designer clothes - were jailed for a total of 25 years after they were caught out by undercover cops posing as addicts.

Officers from Cleveland Police infiltrated the gang and bought heroin on a daily basis from the dealers.

The pushers were so confident they even recruited children as young as six and seven to raise the alarm if police were spotted while deals were going down.

And they took on "workers" who were employed on a shift basis touting heroin around the streets of Middlesbrough, Teesside.

The trade spread as far afield as the Scottish Borders and South Yorkshire.

Police had at first thought the gang were small time operators.

But within weeks of monitoring deals from May last year it soon became clear the mob had a massive turnover.

During a seven month operation, officers codenamed Monk and Compass, bought heroin worth £70,000 in a series of test purchases.

The dealers were so convinced they could not be caught, a wall near where many deals were done was daubed with contact telephone numbers under the painted name "Smack Lane".

The gang had spent thousands of pounds on flash high speed cars, jet-set holidays abroad and the latest designer fashions.

One had 100 pairs of trainers inside his wardrobe.

Ringleader Paul Frank, 25, of Fulbeck House, Middlesbrough, was jailed for eight years at Teesside Crown Court on Monday after he admitted conspiracy to supply drugs.

Peter Dunford, 28, of Bruce Avenue and Paul Sharples, 20, of Lothian Road, both Middlesbrough, were each sentenced to three years nine months after admitting their part in the drugs ring.

At an earlier hearing this year, Leon White, 23, of Ayresome Street and Simon O'Kelly, 22, of Hutton Road, also Middlesbrough, were each jailed for five years for conspiracy to supply drugs following a trial.

Insp Gary Gamesby of Middlesbrough Police said: "This was no ordinary drugs gang.

"This was a gang dealing in kilos of heroin every day. At one time 70 dealers a day were getting their supplies from them."