Blackpool County Lines drug gang who brought 'utter and abject misery' to resort jailed for a total of 43 years - including one who hid drugs in a Kinder egg between his buttocks

Barlow
Barlow
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Members of an organised crime group who conspired to flood Blackpool's streets with heroin and cocaine are today starting lengthy sentences behind bars.

The Mancunian based operation, which went by the name of “Junior”, had a County Lines phone number which local drug users in Blackpool could call to arrange to buy drugs.

Baillie

Baillie


Their activities were exposed by a police sting called Operation Mallard, which revealed drugs were regularly couriered from Manchester to Blackpool.

READ MORE: Blackpool dealers who used phone line to sell hard drugs in resort are found guilty of offences after 'County Lines' drug trial


It led to eight people pleading guilty and three convicted after a trial.


Ringleaders Kane Hopkins, 24, Ivy Street, Manchester, got nine years and Christian Cook, 19, of Princess Street, Blackpool, received three years and eight months in a YOI.

Bennett

Bennett

Judge Philip Parry said some street dealing would have place full view of residents, visitors, men, women, and children, whom he said "must have been disgusted".

He added: "You fail to grasp or acknowledge the effect your part in drug supply onto the streets of Blackpool has on the people who live in the town, the businesses who suffer at the hands of addicts who steal to fund their addiction, the utter and abject misery you bring to those who are themselves gripped by addition.

"The effect of what you all did has far reaching consequences in areas such as Blackpool."

He remarked the operation ran smoothly and was "remarkably simple in its execution".

Cook

Cook

Hopkins and Cook controlled the "Junior" phone line and brought drugs from Manchester to Blackpool. Later a second 'South Shore Junior' line to serve the south of the resort was introduced.


The duo needed flats to store the drugs, cars and drivers to move them, and dealers or runners to sell them.


Dealers and runners included David Heaps, 38, of General Street, who was given four years and one month after being described as "brazen" in his dealings.


Karlie Kanger-Kamara, 26, of HMP Risley, Warrington, refused to leave his prison cell, and was sentenced in his absence to six and a half years, including one year five months for other offences in Manchester.

Mandulakis

Mandulakis

Reece Barlow, 20, of Charles Street, Blackpool, got three years in a YOI.

Jamie Copeland, 35, of East Boothroyden Avenue in Blackpool, joined the conspiracy for about a week, but his activities were cut short.

He was caught very quickly with a large amount of heroin and cocaine in a Kinder Egg hidden between his buttocks, £680 down the front of his trousers, drugs in his washing machine, and two sets of “tick lists” on his bedroom floor.

The judge acknowledged he had led a law abiding life and had a good job before getting involved with drugs - and he has since become clean.

He got three years in jail.


Other drivers Nikolaos Mandulakis, 50, of Cragg Street, Blackpool, and James Baillie, 40, of Moore Street, Blackpool, were given three and a half years and five and a half years respectively.

Hopkins

Hopkins

Dean Bennett, 34, of Spencer Court, Blackpool, got four years, but girlfriend Theresa Ratcliffe, 35, of Albert Road, Blackpool, had her two year term suspended for two years, with a drug rehabilitation order.

They allowed Cook, Barlow and Kamara to use their flats as a base.

Aaron Scott, 23, of Cunliffe Road, Blackpool, who is dad to a three-week-old son, was given 18 months, suspended for two year for allowing his flat to be used to store drugs.
He must do 200 hours unpaid work and a curfew.

Lancashire Police were commended by the court for the investigation.

The trial was told undercover officers and covert surveillance was used to monitor the group.


Cell siting evidence along a route from Blackpool into Manchester highlighted how the "Junior phone" made repeated trips into Manchester.


On a single day in November 2017 the Junior number sent over 100 text messages in less 10 minutes - the prosecution said this shows the holder of the Junior phone had re-stocked and was advertising.


On May 2, 2018, Cook and Hopkins were arrested in the “House of Tan” salon on Westcliffe Drive in Layton, Blackpool.


Cook was found in one of the booths with 29 wraps of heroin and 39 of cocaine.


Hopkins was in another booth with £683 in his jacket pocket and another £385 hidden in a pack of wipes in the same booth.


Officers found a key to Scott's flat, where police found class A drugs inside the cooker hob extractor hood.

Heaps

Heaps

Copeland

Copeland