Criminals’ Instagram pages have been shut down after a Newsquest investigation, as the government continues to investigate their smuggling operation.

Three of the gang’s online accounts were deleted after we revealed they had boasted of flooding British prisons with dangerous drugs and concealed internet devices, allowing crooks to keep in touch with the criminal underworld.

We reported in February how the gang, calling themselves 'Trick A Screw', concealed Wi-Fi hotspots inside seemingly innocuous devices like beard trimmers and alarm clocks, gloating on Instagram as they shared videos of the devices being used inside prison cells.

The criminal enterprise traded via the social media site for over two-and-a-half years before Newsquest revealed their activities.

When the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) intervened to have the gang’s page closed down, they simply started another one called 'Trick A Screw 2'.

That replacement page remained online for a month after Newsquest brought it to Instagram’s attention and asked a series of questions, all of which the social media giant ignored.

In addition to hidden communications devices, the gang was smuggling the highly-addictive, mind-altering drug 'spice' into prisons by disguising it as privileged legal correspondence.

Fake legal letters were soaked in the drug and then dried out before being sent to prisoners.

The law bans prisons for intercepting legal letters, known as “Rule 39” correspondence, without very good cause.

Once delivered to inmates, the fake letters could be made into handmade cigarettes and smoked.

Our revelations, followed up by the Daily Mirror, prompted the Labour Party to say that the Conservatives had “lost control of prisons”.

A decorated former organised crime detective said the scandal had the potential to cause “incalculable” embarrassment to the police and prison service.

The MOJ told this newspaper it had now successfully applied to Instagram to close down three accounts – but the closures do not mark the end of the matter.

Its digital forensics facility is continuing to investigate the gang with a view to bringing prosecutions.

Our questions to prisons minister Edward Argar about how prisons would go about finding and removing all the illegal devices smuggled in during Trick A Screw’s years-long operation were never answered.

Instagram has refused to provide any on-the-record comment and has ignored all of our press enquiries since late February.