A GANGSTER grandmother who ran a £2.5 million cocaine racket with her sons using a family garage as a front was jailed for six years.

Former trainee teacher Angela Collingbourne, aged 51, of Jenkins Street, Newport, was a “middle manager” in a crime syndicate caught flooding the streets of the city with around 42kg of class-A drugs.

Her sons Jerome Nunes, 28, and Blane Nunes, 26, were jailed in March for 12 and 14 years respectively as the heads of the drugs empire.

The three were convicted of conspiracy to supply a class A drug of cocaine between July 31, 2016 and June 15, 2018 after a trial.

There were 16 members of what prosecutor Andrew Jones had dubbed “an organised crime gang controlling a significant proportion of the Newport drugs trade”.

South Wales Argus: ACCOUNTANT: Angela Collingbourne, was caught on CCTV counting thousands of pounds at the garage. She was in charge of banking the gang’s enormous profitsACCOUNTANT: Angela Collingbourne, was caught on CCTV counting thousands of pounds at the garage. She was in charge of banking the gang’s enormous profits

He added: “It is was a sophisticated group operating covertly and executing their criminal enterprise with precision.”

Collingbourne was caught on CCTV counting “vast amounts of cash” at NP19 Tyres in Newport which was used as a front by the gang and kept their drugs hotline up and running after fellow gang members were arrested.

Eight of the gang were jailed for nearly 70 years in March.

The last eight were sent to prison at Newport Crown Court for 31 years after being convicted of conspiracy to supply a class A drugs.

Collingbourne, Judge Daniel Williams said, has racked up 70 previous convictions, which included shoplifting, driving and public order offences.

He told her: “You portrayed yourself as a victim, a working mother who was fighting bigotry and injustice – the jury saw through you.”

The judge continued: “You began to believe that you and the conspiracy were unstoppable.”

Tia Donovan-Jones, aged 19, of Brookfield Close, Somerton, Newport, was sent to a young offender institute for two years.

Khaleem Hussain, aged 25, of Fleetwood Close, Somerton, Newport, was given a term of six years in custody.

Joshua Southall, 23, of Parc Prison, Bridgend, who was sentenced to a 32-month term in 2018 for possessing heroin and cocaine with intent to supply, was sent to jail for a further eight months.

Matthew Croft, aged 28, of Vivian Road, Newport, was jailed for seven years and four months.

Liam Slade, aged 28, of Aberthaw Circle, Alway, Newport, was handed a prison term of one year.

Brothers Thomas Jones, 23, and Rhys Jones, aged 24, both of Saltmarsh Lane, Goldcliff, Newport, were both each jailed for four years.

The conspiracy was smashed as a result of Operation Finch which saw the gang being investigated for almost two years by officers from Tarian, the regional organised crime unit for southern Wales. 

The arrests were carried out in June last year following a series of co-ordinated raids involving more than 120 officers on properties in the Maindee and Alway areas of Newport led by Tarian and working with Gwent Police.

The gang used various premises in and around Newport to store the drugs while running a dedicated drugs line from a mobile phone and a courier service.

Detective Chief Inspector Julian Bull from Tarian said:  “There is a human cost to the trade of supplying drugs, and we will work tirelessly to stop this. 

"I cannot over-emphasise the dangers of cocaine and the harm it can cause to the community as a whole.

"It is good to know that these criminals are now behind bars and unable to continue profiting from the misery their trade brings to our neighbourhoods.

“As this case shows, someone who is perceived to be a small-time criminal can often be linked to a much larger operation, and the smallest bit of information can sometimes be the missing piece of the puzzle for our officers.

“This was a jointly co-ordinated approach to tackling serious and organised crime in the region between Tarian and our partners in Gwent Police.

“Tarian ROCU focusses its assets on the most serious organised crime that occurs both across the southern Wales region and nationally.

“We will continue to target others involved in the illegal drugs trade and I urge anyone with information or suspicions to call 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, to tell us what they know.”

Iwan Jenkins, of the CPS said: “This operation uncovered significant amounts of cocaine being sold on the streets of Newport.  

“The group was well organised with each person having their own role to play.  The recovered drugs were of high purity.   

“The CPS provided detailed advice from the early stages of this complicated investigation, resulting in these guilty pleas and verdicts.”