SEVEN gang members who used drones to airlift £500,000 worth of drugs into prisons – including HMP Hewell – have been jailed.

A total of 11 drones, including some which had crashed, were seized during a police investigation into flights to seven prisons across the UK.

As well as the Worcestershire prison, HMPs Birmingham, Liverpool, Wymott, Risley, Oakwood and Featherstone were all targeted.

The seven gang members were given prison terms ranging from three to 10 years, while a further six others involved were handed suspended sentences and a community order after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Passing sentence on the 13 defendants convicted of conspiracy charges, Judge Simon Drew QC, said: “Each of you falls to be sentenced for your part in conveying controlled drugs, mobile phones and SIM cards into prisons up and down the country.

“The method you chose to do this was both carefully planned and executed,” he continued.

“Each of you played a part in a wider conspiracy which resulted in approximately 100 separate deliveries.

“This was a sophisticated commercial operation and due to the high value placed on drugs and mobile phones in prisons, designed to make those of you who ran the operation hundreds of thousands of pounds in profit.”

Judge Drew said drug and mobile phone use in prisons had caused heightened levels of violence, an increase in self-harm and deaths, as well as allowing witness intimidation and illegal financial transactions.

He told the plotters: “I have no doubt each one of you knew exactly what you were getting involved in.”

He said the suspended sentences and community orders would act as a deterrent which was “essential” to help prevent similar offending.