County lines drugs trade

Court told of cocaine dealer's 'text bomb' to 68 customers

A crack cocaine dealer from Brampton send a "text bomb" advertising drugs for sale to 68 users, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

James Alexander Bell
Cumbria Police

Police had analysed data on James Bell's mobile phone after finding crack cocaine and other incriminating material in the room where he slept in a house in Kingwater Close, Brampton.

Bell, 46, admitted being concerned in the supply of the class A drug, and was jailed for 32 months.

Judge Brian Cummings QC heard that Bell, a qualified plumber and roofer, had racked up debt when his drugs use got worse after the sudden death of his partner.

Drugs supply 'highest in six years' says police chief

Ben Woolvin

BBC South West Home Affairs correspondent

"Drugs supply into the two counties is the highest it's been in my time as chief constable," says Devon and Cornwall's top cop Shaun Sawyer.

Shaun Sawyer
BBC

Mr Sawyer, who was appointed chief constable in 2013, spoke as a teenager said drugs gangs in Newton Abbot parks had made some areas no-go zones.

"My nieces won't go there any more because the gangs have taken them over," said the unnamed girl.

"So many people who could achieve so many amazing things are just throwing their lives away."

Mr Sawyer met partner agencies, police staff and vulnerable adults to discuss the challenges of tackling drug supply and county lines gangs, who bring drugs to rural areas from big cities.

Tip-offs charity starts drive to break drugs plots

The charity Crimestoppers, which records anonymous tip-offs to help police track down offenders, has launched a special campaign to combat so-called "County Lines" drug dealing in Cumbria.

Criminals from major cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, London and Birmingham are known to use texts to sell heroin and crack cocaine in rural areas, bringing serious criminal behaviour such as violence, exploitation and abuse.

Callers from the county rang in with 1,515 separate pieces of information last year, more than half about drug trafficking, and the charity said the result was "significant arrests, seizures of drugs and the disruption of criminal gangs by Cumbria Police".

Yesterday 15 people involved in a plot to supply drugs in Cumbria were jailed for a total of nearly 90 years.

Fifteen in drugs plot to be sentenced at Carlisle

Fifteen people who sold heroin and crack cocaine in Carlisle in a "county lines" conspiracy are facing sentence at Carlisle Crown Court this week in a three-day hearing.

The defendants, eleven of whom are from Cumbria, played various roles in an operation which brought drugs in from Merseyside and sold them by texting addicts.

Thirteen pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and three more were convicted of their parts in the operation after a trial. All but one will be sentenced tomorrow, with the sixteenth being dealt with later this year.

Tim Evans, prosecuting, told the court the key players came from Liverpool, with Cumbrian residents helping distribute and store the drugs, allowing their homes to be used and helping in other ways.

Today lawyers representing the conspirators took it in turns to give mitigation, some speaking of how lives had been left in "ruins" as a result of illicit involvement.

Now Crimestoppers puts a price on dealer's head

The charity Crimestoppers has offered a reward of up to £3,000 for information leading to the arrest of a man wanted for selling cocaine and heroin in Carlisle.

Louis Simpson
Cumbria Police

Louis Simpson was first listed as wanted by Cumbria police in December, saying the 25-year-old was involved in a conspiracy to supply drugs.

Simpson originates from the Merseyside area and police believe he has now returned to Liverpool, but Crimestoppers say the reward is meant to encourage anyone who knows where he is to come forward.

County Lines: 'What we put in, the shed gives us back'
A homelessness project helps keep vulnerable young people off the streets and away from drugs gangs.