MEMBERS of a Flintshire family have been jailed for their part in an "industrial scale" county lines drug operation which was damaging their own community.

The third and final day of sentencing in respect of 18 members of the "echo line" drugs gang took place on Friday.

Previously the court had heard how the nationwide drug trafficking scheme, based in Merseyside, had supplied class A substances including heroin and cocaine to Scotland, North Wales and the South of England - to an estimated value of more than £2 million.

The operation was broken up following a large police investigation named Operation Tide.

First before the court on Friday was 56-year-old Anthony Stagg, of Cable Court in High Street, alongside his daughter Toni Anne Stagg, aged 22 of Queensway, Shotton, and partner Lisa Tinson, aged 45, of Osbourne Court, Connah's Quay.

The court heard how Anthony Stagg had orchestrated drug dealing in Deeside.

Together the three had provided logistical support for the operation, making sure that "the downstream supply ran efficiently."

In terms of the mechanics of the operation, customers would call the echo line - a phone number operated by a single call handler in Merseyside at any one time - and the demand would be communicated to a "well-rehearsed delivery network in North Wales."

Andrew Craig Jones, prosecuting, told the court the gang controlled a significant proportion of the drug trade in Deeside, particularly Connah's Quay and Anglesey.

Its delivery network used specific dealing locations in Connah's Quay including The Rock, The Pumphouse and tunnels near the cricket pitches.

Andrew Jebb, defending Anthony Stagg, told the court: "Mr Stagg is not a well man - he suffers a heart condition and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"His fear is whether he will see this sentence through to its conclusion.

"Mr Stagg accepts responsibility for what the other two defendants have ended up doing in this case.

"If it were possible for the court to in some way aggravate his position while mitigating theirs, I have no doubt that is what he would wish the court to do."

John Hedgecoe, defending Tinson, said: "The problem she had is she had been a heroin user for a great many years.

"As far as she is concerned, while she knew what she was doing she was effectively feeding her own habit.

"Like a lot of others, she was stumbling through this chaotic form of life."

Andrew green, defending Toni Anne Stagg, said: "At her age, her appearance before the crown court will be the lesson of her life.

"It can be said she is one of the best placed in this case to chart a different court with her life."

Sentencing the three, Judge Niclas Parry said: "Each of you was damaging your local community - a part of Wales which you will know is suffering the dreadful consequences of class A drug dependency.

"Each one of you was clearly an important contact for the county lines phone."

Anthony Stagg was jailed for eight years and three months, Lisa Tinson for six-and-a-half and Toni Stagg for four years.

Leon Langford, of Kingsley Road in Garden City, also provided logistics for the scheme and stepped into the role of operations manager for a period of time when Anthony Stagg was remanded in custody.

The 44-year-old was in "frequent contact" with the echo line and like Anthony Stagg, had controlled the distribution of drugs to end customers via a network of sub-dealers.

He was jailed for six years.

Judge Parry told him: "You will know better than many the dreadful harm class A drugs cause in that part of Flintshire. By your actions you were contributing to the demise of that community."

Also jailed were 53-year-old Peter Powell, of Sealand Avenue, Garden City, and 39-year-old James Hughes of Ffordd Cae Llewellyn, Deeside.

The court heard both men were in the top ten contacts on the echo line, with Powell having provided transport for Anthony Stagg and bought top ups for the county lines phone.

Hughes was a street dealer who "knowingly" sold the product of the county lines gang.

John Hedgecoe, defending Powell and Hughes, said both clients had positive outlooks and were looking ahead to a fresh start.

Both Hughes and Powell were jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Finally 34-year-old Lee Murray (also known as Lee Go), of Sycamore Road in Waterloo, Liverpool, was jailed for 10 years.

The court heard Murray was - for a time - the right hand man to the group's leader, 49-year-old Colin Jones (who was jailed for 21 years on Wednesday).

Murray's senior position entailed the day-to-day running and management of the echo line and ended at some time in 2019 following a fallout with Colin Jones.

Ffion Tomos, prosecuting on the final afternoon of the hearings, said: "He played a very active role in what was a sophisticated and organiser criminal group.

"This defendant was highly trusted by Colin Jones. Before he was replaced, he was a very senior member."

Judge Parry told him: "Yours was a leading role. You were more aware than anyone else of this conspiracy and its magnitude.

"You managed the county drugs phone line and had influence over others."

At the conclusion of the hearings, Judge Parry said: "This harmful operation was only ended as a result of painstakingly patient and thorough policing. "It brought to an end one of the most harmful enterprises of its kind one can imagine. "On behalf of the public I wish to commend the police for thorough work, of which the public should be proud."

Across the three days, the 18 defendants sentenced in relation to Operation Tide were all jailed - with their sentences reaching almost 150 years collectively.