'County Lines' drugs gang jailed for supplying heroin and cocaine in Preston

Four members of a drug-dealing gang have been sentenced to a total of more than 15 years in prison for supplying Class A drugs in Preston.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 6:55 pm
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 6:56 pm

The organised crime group travelled daily from Manchester to Preston delivering drugs to users between August and October last year (2019).

Police became aware of the group’s activity and launched Operation New Era.

Det Insp Roger Ashcroft said: “As soon as we were aware of this County Lines operation targeting vulnerable drug users in Preston we were determined to bring the OCG to justice and we are grateful to those who provided us with information leading to their arrest.

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Clockwise L-R: Abrar Ahmed, Shavon Morrison, Richard Mushonga, Yasir Ali. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

“We hope this serves as a warning to anyone entering Lancashire with the intent to supply drugs in our community – we will find them and ensure they are punished accordingly.”

Lancashire Police said 'County Lines' drugs operations are used by organised crime groups (OCG) to distribute "competitively-priced, controlled drugs to areas in the country where they are less readily available."

Officers conducted a number of searches, executing warrants in the Preston area and seizing drugs.

All four men were arrested and charged with conspiring to supply Class A drugs after their ‘County Lines’ operation selling heroin and crack cocaine was uncovered.

They all pleaded guilty and were convicted at Preston Crown Court today (January 24):

- Abrar Ahmed, 24, of Kingsway in Manchester, was jailed for five years.

- Yasir Ali, 22, of Meade Grove in Manchester, was imprisoned for four years and eight months.

- Shavon Morrison, 21, of Claremont Road in Manchester, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

- Richard Mushonga 21, of Medway Close in Salford, was also sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

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What does the term 'County Lines' mean?

‘County Lines' is a term used when drug gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs, according to the National Crime Agency.

These dealers will use dedicated mobile phone lines, known as 'deal lines', to take orders from drug users.

Heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine are the most common drugs being supplied and ordered.

In most instances, the users or customers will live in a different area to where the dealers and networks are based, so drug runners are needed to transport the drugs and collect payment.