DRUG dealers who ran a sophisticated drug supply line by hiding thousands of pounds worth of cocaine underground have been locked up for a combined 30 years.

Acting under the orders of ring-leader Jake Gregory, 28, Jake Holliday, 26, and William Locke, 23, used discreet underground hiding spots around Colchester to stash cocaine.

Ipswich Crown Court heard the group used 44-year-old James Martin’s address in Trinity Street, Halstead, as a base for processing the drugs.

The court heard when Martin’s home was searched, items used for cutting cocaine were found, along with rubber gloves, face masks and material for wrapping drugs.

READ MORE: Organised drugs gang who hid cocaine underground locked up for 30 years

But between June and December 2019, the group were under the careful watch of the police, who made eight visits to the hides, accounting for 2.5kg of cocaine.

They also observed members of the group make 30 visits to the hides, estimating the true scale over the months of surveillance to amount to around 5kg of cocaine.

The court heard the group operated “relatively closely”to the source of drugs coming into the UK.

All four defendants admitted conspiracy to supply a Class A drug.

Gregory was also sentenced for two separate charges of possession with intent to supply Class B and Class A drugs.

The drugs seized had an average purity of 70 per cent.

The defendants used encrypted mobile phones to avoid detection, which Judge Rupert Overbury said “showed the extent” of their efforts to conceal their activity.

Judge Overbury said Gregory had acted as the “leading member” of the group, living a lavish lifestyle in 2019 which was “out of all proportion” with his means.

Gregory, of no fixed address, was sentenced to nine years and four months imprisonment, Holliday, of Devon Road, Colchester, to eight years and eight months, while Locke, of Connaught Close, Colchester, and Martin, of Trinity Street, Halstead, were each jailed for six years and three months.