Heroin and cocaine dealers from Stratford, Dagenham and South Woodford jailed for running county lines drugs operation in Exeter
- Credit: Archant
A gang of county lines drug dealers from across east London have been brought to justice after they were found guilty of transporting Class A drugs from London to Exeter – often using coerced children as drug mules while bragging about their illegal lifestyles on Snapchat.
On Thursday, October 10, the last member of the gang to be sentenced, 20-year-old Bobo Faki from Dukes Court in East Ham, was jailed for nine years and six months.
Faki and fellow dealer Shuiab Omar Awadh, aged 24, were both found guilty on Thursday April 25 this year of conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin following a trial at Exeter Crown Court.
Seven other members of the gang all pleaded guilty before trial to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Hassan Sufi, aged 20, of Valence Avenue in Dagenham, was jailed for eight years and two months.
Yakub Sufi, 19 and also of Valence Avenue, was given a seven year sentence.
Faisal Ibrahim, aged 24, of Upper Road, Upton Park, will spend six years behind bars while Khadija Shariff, aged 20, of Crest Walk, South Woodford, was given a sentence of four years and three months.
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Shuiab Omar Awadh, aged 24, of Liberty Bridge Road, Stratford was jailed for three years and three months.
A further 17 individuals, who police identified as local street dealers in and around the Exeter area, have already been sentenced at previous hearings.
Devon and Cornwall Police officers began investigating the gang in July 2017, after an undercover officer was able to purchase drugs by calling a county line number - the call was taken by a man with a London accent.
Det Sgt Matt Lawrence revealed: "A short time later, we went to the pre-arranged pick-up point and made an arrest where we seized drugs, cash and mobile phones.
"From here we continued to build an intelligence picture and managed to identify a number of drug lines from London into Exeter."
It emerged that the gang were responsible for three county lines bringing drugs into Exeter - these were dubbed Mitch, Rico and Pricey.
Drug dealers, including Hassan Sufi and Yakub Sufi, would be in control of these drug lines and would take drug orders from local dealers in Exeter, as well as send out bulk text messages to local dealers and drug users advertising their products.
By August 2017, police had started to monitor the trafficking of drugs from London down to Exeter.
Det Sgt Lawrence continued: "Journeys were made by a number of the gang including Ibraham, Sufi and Abdullahi in possession of large amounts of Class A drugs to meet these orders.
"We also identified Robin Janowski and Jake Taplin as both being in Exeter and playing an integral role in the operating of the Rico line, undertaking drug runs and cash collections locally."
And like many county lines up and down the UK, the gang pressed children into service for them.
Det Con Tracey Stafford said: "A large number of these journeys would be made by the gang who preyed on children to undertake drug-running and cash collection for the gang
"Four children aged 13 to 15 were befriended by members of the gang in London before being turned on and threatened, claiming that they lost packages and now owed the gangs hundreds of pounds which they didn't have.
"Khadija Sharif in particular coerced and threatened children into making drug runs from London to Exeter - Faisal Ibraham and Hassan Sufi undertook numerous journeys from with a minor to undertake drug drops and cash collections.
"Thankfully, as part of our investigations, we have managed to identify and help these children, freeing them from the grasp of the gang and allowing them to hopefully have a different future."
All in all, specialist undercover officers from Devon and Cornwall Police spent more than 10 months gathering in excess of 2,500 pieces of intelligence on the gang and how it operated.
A large amount of that material was used in court to help secure their convictions.