Former military man from Oldbury jailed for £170k cocaine and heroin plot

Markel Harris ran a county lines operation, peddling crack cocaine and heroin across the Midlands. Credit: BirminghamLive/BPM

A former military man embroiled in a £170,000 drugs network has been jailed.

Markel Harris ran a county lines operation, peddling crack cocaine and heroin across the Midlands and south London.The 41-year-old sent thousands of 'bulk' messages to drug users advertising when the dangerous substances were ready for sale. His offending came after he retired early from the army.Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how police officers executed a warrant at the defendant's home in Walton Road, Oldbury, on September 16 last year.

They discovered £18,000, mainly made up of £20 notes, in a black bag hidden inside a bedroom wardrobe.Harris was arrested and later released under investigation, prosecutor Andrew Davidson said.

A second warrant for his arrest was executed at the defendant's home just before 5.15am on February 27 this year.He was in his bed when police seized a mobile phone from under his pillow.

The phone was used to run the Sharpie county line, with thousands of 'broadcast messages' sent from it.Messages advertising the sale of drugs were sent across the West Midlands, East Midlands and south London, Mr Davidson said.

A total of 1.6kg of crack cocaine and heroin, worth £170,460, was seized by police during the investigation.The court also heard that Harris had one previous conviction for drink-driving in 2013.

Iain Suggett, defending, said the 'hardworking' convict had a 'military background' and was handed a 'lump sum' when he took early retirement from the army.He left with 'exemplary conduct' and also had a construction business.

Mr Suggett added: "He fully accepts what he has done. He has allowed greed to get the better of him."He seems just to have parachuted into the middle of this for no reason. It is a devastating shame to him and society that he has fallen from the path of righteousness."Harris admitted two counts of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and one count of possession of criminal property between September 2022 and February 2023.

The Judge stated that Harris had showed 'genuine remorse' and had a 'low risk of reoffending'. However, the judge did add that "Class A drugs have a significant impact on the community and ruin lives".

On Friday 20th October, Harris was jailed for five years and three months.

DC Andy Turton, from the West Midlands county lines team said: "We are working harder than ever to crack down on County Lines, which bring misery to communities in the form of drug dealing, exploitation and violence".

"Harris ran a highly active drugs line that not only operates in Oldbury but other areas"."We are pleased he has been taken off our streets and is now serving time behind bars".

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…