A SOUTHAMPTON teenager led an armed gang that sold a large quantity of drugs - including cannabis imported from across the globe, a court heard.

Stanley Woods was just 17 when he started selling skunk cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy on a commercial scale, making "huge" profits in the process.

Today Woods was jailed for more than six years at Southampton Crown Court - the first of 18 defendants due to be sentenced this week.

Members of the gang were active between April 2019 and March last year, selling drugs on the streets of Southampton, Portsmouth and Winchester.

They armed themselves with knives, baseball bats and ten antique firearms, although there was no evidence any of the guns were ever fired, the court heard.

Charles Gabb, prosecuting, said: "It's a cut-throat world inhabited by sharks who attack each other because it's such a lucrative business."

Mr Gabb said Woods, now 20, imported cannabis from several countries, including Canada, Switzerland and the US, and made an estimated profit of £180,000 in one six-week period alone. The people who worked for him earned up to £400 a week.

He added: "This was a 24/7 business that was running on a truly commercial basis.

"Woods was the leader. He was organising the importation, the runners, and the dissemination of the money. It was his line and he was effectively in complete control."

Mr Gabb said the gang converted cash into Britcoin in a bid to cover their tracks.

He told the court: "We don't know how much money was squirreled away in this manner, but it's likely to have been a very considerable amount."

Andrew Houston, representing Woods, urged the court to take his client's youth into account, saying he was only 17-18 when he committed the offences.

But Judge Nicholas Rowland said he had displayed maturity beyond his years, running a large-scale operation and often directing older accomplices.

Woods, of Imperial Avenue, Shirley, was jailed for a total of six years and eight months, having previously pleaded guilty to importing/supplying drugs and illegally possessing mobile phones in prison.

The only other person sentenced today was Stacey Burton, 34, of Alexandra Road, Bournemouth.

Burton, who had previously admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and supplying cocaine, was jailed for a total of three years and three months.

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