Snared drugs kingpins have been jailed for more than 300 years after wreaking misery in Norfolk by supplying heroin and crack cocaine.

Norfolk Constabulary said there have been 82 County Lines convictions over the past three years - with criminals facing 315 years and 11 months behind bars.

The force revealed the figure to highlight the success of a team set up to disrupt the "devastating" County Lines scourge.

And it confirmed it had shut down 74 lines bringing Class A drugs into the county since the team was set up in 2019.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk police chief constable Paul SanfordNorfolk police chief constable Paul Sanford (Image: Norfolk Constabulary)

Chief Constable Paul Sanford said: "County Lines drug dealing and the exploitation and violence that comes with it has a devastating impact on our communities.

"The removal of these Class A drugs from our streets has a knock-on effect to other related criminality, protecting some of the most vulnerable people in Norfolk as well as the wider community."

County Lines are where drugs gangs set up distribution networks into provincial towns or cities.

Often based in major cities such as London or Liverpool, the gang leaders remain there to take the lion’s share of any profit, while young and vulnerable people are exploited.

Teenagers have been used as 'mules' to peddle drugs, while vulnerable adults can be 'cuckooed', with their homes taken over for drug dealing.

Mr Sanford urged parents to be aware of efforts by the gangs to recruit teenagers - by offering money and gifts to run drugs, which he described as a "slippery slope".

He urged the public to report issues and had a message for casual drug users.

He said: "I think the more casual drug user needs to take a good look at themselves if they think what they are doing is not having an impact. It does - on the exploited and vulnerable."

County Lines has triggered deaths and violence among rival gangs trying to protect their turf.

Mr Sanford said: "If you analyse the most recent homicides in this county, the three biggest factors are domestic abuse, mental health and the County Lines drugs supply."

The lines are run by a ‘line-holder’ who uses an unregistered mobile phone to arrange movement of drugs.

Norfolk police's seven-strong specialist team has been using phone data analysis to track them down and stamp out movement of drugs at the source.

Eastern Daily Press: Det Insp Robin Windsor-WaiteDet Insp Robin Windsor-Waite (Image: Archant (C) 2007)

Det Insp Robin Windsor-Waite, who leads the County Lines team, said: "Targeting those at the top of the pyramid disrupts the entire supply chain into our county.

"Our tactics have been so successful we have had a 100pc conviction rate with all the lines we have targeted."


Violence and exploitation

Amrik Singh, 19, from London, admitted the manslaughter of David Lawal, 25, whose body was found by the A134 Brandon Road in Thetford on October 3, 2019.

Eastern Daily Press: Amrik SinghAmrik Singh (Image: Norfolk Constabulary)

The court heard Mr Lawal's death followed a violent confrontation between gangs involved in running a mobile phone drug line to supply drugs in Thetford.

Singh, fearing he was about to stabbed, used a knife to stab Mr Lawal, causing "catastrophic" damage. He was given a six-year sentence.

Eastern Daily Press: David LawalDavid Lawal (Image: Archant)

In 2020, the cutting of London to Norwich County Lines supply lines led to eight people being jailed.

Among them was Wayne Mann, 35, from London, jailed for four years and two months.

Eastern Daily Press: Wayne MannWayne Mann (Image: Archant)

Norwich Crown Court heard he had two phones found to contain text messages sent in bulk offering drugs to known drug users.

He was jailed after admitting being concerned in supply of heroin and cocaine.

Alfie Bristow, 22, of Bussey Road in Norwich, was jailed for three years in February, after admitting two counts of supplying heroin and crack cocaine.

Bristow was arrested in Cromer following investigations into suspicious mobile phone activity, consistent with the operation of a drug line.

Eastern Daily Press: Alfie BristowAlfie Bristow (Image: Norfolk Police)