A STRONG warning to young people about the dangers of becoming involved in drug dealing has been issued after two shocking court cases.
Gloucestershire police reiterated its commitment to tackling organised crime and warned youngsters not to be ‘tricked’ into thinking that selling illegal substances would lead to a better life.
The comments come after two cases both involving youngsters in their late teens who were involved in the sale of Class A drugs in Stroud.
Last Wednesday, James Joyce, 18, was convicted of possessing heroin and cocaine with intent to supply in the Tesco Express car park in Paganhill.
The day before, Zak Jackson, now aged 19, but who was only 17 at the time of the offences, was sentenced for possessing cocaine worth £16,000 with intent to supply and a prohibited weapon.
Speaking after the cases, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Smith of Gloucestershire police, reiterated the force’s commitment to tackling class A drug dealing.
He said: “Gloucestershire Constabulary is committed to the targeting and disruption of groups that are involved in drug dealing.
“Exploitative drug networks and county lines are an operational priority for the constabulary and we work tirelessly with our partner agencies to target individuals who carry out this deadly activity.
“Over recent years Chief Constable Rod Hansen and Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl have invested in dedicated teams of highly specialised officers who have a sole aim of identifying and targeting those who traffic and import drugs into Gloucestershire.
“We’re fully aware of the dangers of drug dealing and understand that nationally there has been a significant rise in weapon enabled homicides that are connected to the drug market and those who run them.
“We will continue our work to tackle serious and organised crime groups (OCGs), however the assistance of local communities is key in doing so.
“Young people are being exploited every day without knowing this, they are tricked into carrying out drug dealing for OCGs believing they are having a better life by doing this.”
During the hearing involving James Joyce, prosecutor Ian Fenny told jurors at Gloucester Crown Court that police were observing suspected Class A drug users in Stroud as they approached a parked Rover car on April 24.
“Three hours later the car returned and entered the Tesco Express car park,” he said.
Mr Fenny said that drug-users went up to the car and when the police approached them the three men in the back seat of the Rover, including the defendant, ran away.
“There was a chase and a youth, another man and the defendant were caught and arrested,” said Mr Fenny.
“On the back seat was a large number of wraps of heroin and crack cocaine, about £1,000 worth in street deals.”
When Joyce was searched by police, three additional wraps of Class A drugs and two mobile phones were discovered, both of which had drug-related text messages on them, said Mr Fenny.
In evidence, Joyce, of Hucclecote Road, Gloucester, said that he did not know the driver of the car and had only got into the vehicle because he thought they were all going into town to meet some girls.
He told the court that he ran away from the vehicle because he thought he had some cannabis on him and he panicked when he saw the police.
But before running away he said that he borrowed a jacket which happened to have three wraps of Class A drugs in the pockets.
Joyce told the court he was a homeless ‘sofa-surfer’ and depended on handouts from his mother and uncle.
“On that day it was my best friend’s birthday and the car came to pick me up and take me to Stroud so that we could meet some girls and celebrate,” he claimed.
Joyce, who had denied the charges, was remanded in custody and will be sentenced along with others involved at a later date.
Zak Jackson’s case was also heard at Gloucester Crown Court.
The court heard that police raided his girlfriend’s flat in Mathew’s Way in Stroud on February 12 last year.
Officers found a £16,000 block of cocaine under a bed, a stash of knives and a stun gun.
They also discovered an assortment of drug paraphernalia including electronic scales, cling-film wraps and mobile phones containing drug-dealing messages.
Jackson, of Mason Road, Stroud, was sentenced to 23 months in a young offenders’ institution.
The court heard that the police had attended the address for an unrelated matter and had searched the premises.
Prosecuting barrister Caighli Taylor said: “A one kilogram block of cocaine was found in a carrier bag underneath a bed which the defendant insists he was looking after for somebody else and says it was not his.
“He does concede though that he has been selling Class A drugs and was engaged in street-dealing.”
The court heard that during the police search a taser, disguised as a torch, was found in a kitchen bin, several knives and a cosh were found in a bedroom and £575 in cash was found on the defendant.
Sarah Jenkins, for the defence, said: “My client had no funds and went down a slippery slope.
“He was just 17 when he committed these offences and since then his partner has had the baby, now a 19-month-old son. He is no longer associated with the people involved in the drug world.”