Cornwall

London to Cornwall county lines drugs conspiracy 'run from prison'

Truro Crown Court
Image caption The trial at Truro Crown Court is expected to last four weeks

A prisoner ran a county lines drugs operation from his cell, a court heard.

Police found a phone in the cell of Jerome Douglas that he used to communicate with other gang members, Truro Crown Court was told.

He denies conspiracy to supply drugs, while others on trial are accused of arranging the travel of young people with a view to exploiting them.

The London gang would send messages advertising drugs to known users in Cornwall, the jury was told.

Ten people are on trial, including a 17-year-old who cannot be named.

Members of the group completed more than 60 return journeys in hire cars between east London and Cornwall, the jury heard.

The gang operated a county line called the Billy Line, using five different mobile phones between December 2017 and December 2018, the court was told.

Messages were sent to about 60 known users at a time, who could then reply and place an order.

'Running the show'

Young people would then be contacted to deliver the heroin or crack cocaine.

Mr Douglas, 33, of HMP Wandsworth, was described by prosecutor Don Tait as "running the show even though he was in prison".

The jury heard he was found with a mobile phone he would use most days, with some calls lasting more than an hour to other members of the alleged conspiracy.

Others were involved with hiring cars, and driving to Cornwall with drugs, money and people to handle the drugs.

Two young people were arrested at the property of a known drug user in Bodmin, having been left there to distribute drugs, the jury was told.

They were identified as victims and are prosecution witnesses.

Mr Tait said: "They were both vulnerable young men from the streets of London. They were recruited under considerable duress and transported to Cornwall to supply Class A drugs to known local users."

The exploitation charges have been brought under the Modern Slavery Act.

Those on trial are:

  • Jerome Douglas denies conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and unauthorised possession of an item inside a prison
  • John Griffin, 56, from Bodmin, denies conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and arranging the travel of another with a view to exploitation
  • Michael Rowe, 32, from Newquay, denies conspiracy to supply Class A drugs
  • Irene Sampson, 65, from St Dennis, denies conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and arranging the travel of another with a view to exploitation
  • Amari Orgill, 22, from Haringey, London, denies conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and arranging the travel of another with a view to exploitation
  • Darren Bruce, 50, from Haringey, denies conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and arranging the travel of another with a view to exploitation
  • Connell Bruce, 31, from Haringey, denies arranging the travel of another with a view to exploitation
  • Shanice Morrison, 28, from Tottenham, London, denies conspiracy to supply Class A drugs
  • An unnamed 17-year old from London denies conspiracy to supply Class A drugs

The trial continues.

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