FIVE men have been jailed for a total of 38-and-a-half years over £1million drugs conspiracy.

Cocaine and cannabis worth more than £1million was involved in the operation, which stretched from Clacton to industrial units in West Essex.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard on Friday how a major drugs probe was launched by police, after nearly half a kilo of cocaine was discovered in a car, near Clacton.

Officers had stopped the vehicle, driven by Peter Bark, on the A133 near Weeley, on March 2 last year, and discovered half a kilo of 76 per cent pure cocaine.

The find led to a high level surveillance operation, which ended with nine people in custody and a huge haul of cocaine, cannabis and cash worth around £1.3million.

James Dawson, prosecuting, said: “Analysis of telephone and billing records, calls and clusters of inter-defendant calls, coinciding with key events, provides evidence of involvement in these conspiracies.”

Names and numbers in the memory of Bark’s phone were checked and over the next three months, officers also gathered photographic evidence.

Then in June last year, a series of arrests were made following raids at addresses in Clacton and industrial units in west Essex.

Police arrested and later charged Gregory Morgan, Simon Newman, David Cooper, Alan Farra and Colin Shea.

Large quantities of cocaine and cannabis, as well as chemicals used to reduce the quality of cocaine, were also discovered, the court heard.

The surveillance operation carried out by police showed they were involved at various locations in Clacton, including West Road, Lymington Avenue, Severn Road and at a car park in Gorse Road.

Police later discovered the garage at Shea’s Clacton home had been used to “cut” or reduce the quality of cocaine An industrial unit at the Nazeing Glassworks site, in west Essex, was searched by police.

They found nearly half a kilo of cocaine was found, along with 200 kilos of cannabis resin and 93 kilos of herbal cannabis.

The court also heard some of those involved told police the phone calls were nothing to do with drugs.

They related to birthday greetings and holiday “chit chat”, it was claimed.