TWO men involved in a ‘county lines’ drug operation in Stroud have been jailed for a total of five year and four months.
Gloucester Crown Court was told yesterday that the police were on patrol in Stroud during the early afternoon of January 22 this year when they saw a group in an alleyway who they believed to be class A drug users.
Caighli Taylor, prosecuting, said: “The police saw a man contact another man who was slumped down in the alleyway and witnessed him drop something on the floor which was picked up. The man left and entered a nearby building known as the Old Convent.
“Less than a hour later the same man was seen again handing something to two men. The police gave chase and one of the men discarded a couple of wraps, one each of heroin and cocaine.
“The 46-year-old drug dealer was eventually apprehended and identified himself as James Coward who lived at a flat in Beeches Green and gave the police the keys to his flat.”
The court heard that Coward was searched and had a number of wraps in his coat pocket, five cocaine and four heroin. The police also found a number a number of mobile phones with evidence of drug dealing on it.
Dre Sanderson-Stapleton, 18 of Windmilll Lane, Greenford, Uxbridge, was arrested at the address and was found to have two mobile phones on him and 42 pre-prepared street dealing wraps – 27 cocaine and 15 heroin – which had a street value of £820. He was also found with £585 in notes and £43.45 in coins wrapped in cling film.
The prosecutor said that his phones were analysed and revealed evidence of drug dealing. One of the phones was linked to a county lines number.
Ms Taylor added: “Coward admitted he was new to the CJ line while Sanderson-Stapleton, who may be only a teenager, nevertheless had a significant role in this county lines operation.”
Neil Hewitt of the probation service told the court that Sanderson-Stapleton went to Stroud to see his partner but had got involved in the drug scene when he was told he could earn £650 a week by being a street dealer.
Mr Hewitt added: “Sanderson-Stapleton now regrets his actions. He is a carpet fitter by trade but also has a cannabis habit. He is immature and there is evidence of poor decision making around drugs.”
Joe Maloney defending said: “Sanderson-Stapleton is a young man who accepts his situation. This world of drugs has led him being in custody for the past three weeks.”
Mr Maloney said of Coward:”He is a vulnerable man who said when he was arrested ‘I’m glad this is all over now,’.”
Sanderson-Stapleton admitted being concerned in supply of heroin and possession of cocaine while Coward pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of heroin and cocaine in Locking Hill, Stroud.
Judge Martin Picton said to both defendants: “The pair of you got involved with the county line drug set up in Gloucester. There is no alternative to custody for either of you.”
Both men were jailed for two years eight months. The judge ordered for the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and confiscation of the cash.