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  1. ITV Report

County lines gang jailed for total of 62 years in 'sophisticated operation' between Bournemouth and Merseyside

A gang of 10 drug dealers have been jailed for a total of 62 years for trafficking drugs between Dorset and Merseyside.

It follows a major police investigation into the county lines operation which led to heroin and cocaine being supplied in Bournemouth.

Video footage, played in court, showed the gang trafficking in excess of 5kg of drugs between Liverpool and Bournemouth, between April and November 2018.

Footage captured by police during surveillance shows heroin and cocaine with a street value of £150,000 hidden in the boot of a car which had just been driven from Liverpool to Bournemouth.

Drugs were also found hidden in a battery pack, wrapped and ready to be sold on the street.

Two members of the gang were filmed at a service station on their way to collect the drugs from Liverpool.

In the summer of 2018 this was a weekly trip, collecting drugs ordered by text.

The police operation was in response to a spike in drug crime in north Bournemouth at the start of 2018.

It ended with simultaneous police raids in Merseyside and Dorset.

Between the two forces working with the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, we were able to build an investigation that could map the activity from its origin through to where it was being distributed. The scale of the operation went on for eight months because they were changing the way they did things so used various tactics to try and disguise their behaviour."

– Detective Inspector Adrian Hawkins, South West Regional Organised Crime Unit

Six of the gang lived in the Bournemouth area, Stephen McDonald, Richie McDonald and Shaun Lewis all pleaded guilty in February last year, with Carl Norton changing his plea to guilty mid-trial.

Olatunde Ademuyiwa and Craig Biddle were convicted by a jury in July.

The other four gang members, including the leader James Brown, also known as 'Scouse Porky', were from Merseyside.

It is not known how much the gang profited from the drug deals but a large amount of cash was also seized by the police.

Credit: South West ROCU

The police have described county lines as a "blight on society which targets the most vulnerable people".

Sentencing the men, Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said that this was a "sophisticated and resilient operation which contributed to the drug problem in Dorset".

He also congratulated the police on the success of their investigation.