The squalid living conditions of a flat in Cheltenham that was used by county lines drug dealers have been revealed by police.
Thai Carlyle, Niall McLean and Rushaun Payne “ruthlessly” took over the flat in Mersey Road, forcing its occupier out on to the streets in a practice known as ‘cuckooing’.
From there, the trio ran a hugely successful drug-dealing operation - making hundreds of pounds every day by selling crack cocaine and heroin.
The class A drugs were transported from Birmingham to Cheltenham, where they were then sold by teenage boys hired as ‘runners’.
Two of these ‘runners’, aged 14 and 15, were found at the flat when police raided it in March last year.
Officers also found more than £600 worth of crack cocaine and heroin.
Carlyle, 18, from West Bromwich, McLean, 19, from Birmingham and Pyne, 19, also from Birmingham, were sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy at Gloucester Crown Court today (Monday, January 21).
Carlyle and McLean were sentenced to six years in a youth detention centre while Pyne, who had acted as a driver, was given a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
DC Craig Openshaw, of Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: “The impact of county lines enterprises is clearly highlighted by this sad case.
“These young boys were found in a filthy drugs den and had clearly been spending most of their time distributing crack and heroin on the streets of Cheltenham.
"It’s been established that they have been exploited so they now face no further action.
“Thankfully one boy is back in a family setting and both are receiving support from youth services to get their lives back on track.
“Their role was to deliver drugs to vulnerable drug users in the town at the request of the older men. The older men sent messages from their mobile phone (the ‘county line’ in this case - given the name “Rick”) to those vulnerable drug users in an attempt to corner the local market.
“We suspect they were bringing hundreds of pounds worth of drugs into the county on a daily basis so you can see that it would have been very profitable for them.
“Sadly, the whole situation would have just worsened the plight of those vulnerable users.
“The taking over of the flat also badly affected the previous occupant's life, making her prospects far worse.
“Tackling county lines is a priority for us and we’re pleased that because of the great work of the Force Crime Ops Team we have been able to take this line down.”