SENTENCES totalling more than 30 years have been imposed on an evil gang who pedalled hard drugs on the streets of Southampton with the aid of taxis.

Nearly £40,000 in cash, thousands of pounds of heroin and crack cocaine as well as live ammunition were seized when armed police swooped on two houses in the same street last July.

In an exclusive story in July 2012, the Daily Echo revealed how police used a battering ram to dramatically smash their way into two houses in the St.Mary’s area of the city in the latest crackdown on drug gangs.

They also formed road blocks around Northbrook Road as the drama unfolded under the Operation Fortress inititiave, a £2m campaign that had only been launched a few weeks earlier by Hampshire Constabulary in their continuing war against drug distributors doing their business in Southampton.

Local residents watched from bedroom windows in shock as the arrested had their hands tied behind their backs as they lay on the pavement as officers combed the properties..

Inside they recovered a Samurai sword, 24 rounds of live rounds, the cash as well as nearly about £13,000 worth of heroin and crack cocaine which had been brought from London.

“The cash was spread around the house in various locations,” prosecutor Matthew Jewell alleged. “Although no gun has been recovered, ammunition would be useless without access to a weapon and the need for those engaged in the supply of drugs on this scale is plain.”

Gang members had been tracked sending text messages to a mobile phone number containing messages “indicative of involvement in drug dealing.”

The drugs were distributed from Northbrook Road by the booking of taxis which often travelled to Atherley Road where the prosecution claimed were a number of premises connected with their supply.

Today five people were jailed with sentences ranging from 32 months to 10 years for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine in what Judge Peter Henry describe as a well organised operation which had led to substantial quantity of drugs being brought to Southampton.

“The damage caused by drugs of this kind in physical and mental health is too well known and it is a significant cause of crime committed by addicts to fund their addiction,” he commented passing sentence.

After the hearing, Detective Superintendent Kath Barnes said: “We are delighted with the convictions and sentences. The judge has sent out a very clear message to those people involved in this form of criminal enterprise. He also made a significant point on the impact of hard drugs in the community.”