Bid to recover money from gang which trafficked children to sell drugs
PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 06:30 06 January 2020
A court is today due to decide how much money should be clawed back from three men who were part of a gang that "deliberately and unscrupulously" trafficked children to sell drugs on the streets of Great Yarmouth.
Last September, Nathan Hamilton, 29, of Mulberry Street, London, was sentenced to 10 years and nine months in prison at Norwich Crown Court after pleading guilty to arranging the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, along with two counts of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin.
He appeared in court alongside Shaun Ellis, 26, of no fixed address, and Blaire Carpenter-Angol, 27, from London, who also pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin.
Ellis was jailed for 11 years and eight months and Carpenter-Angol was given five years.
It was the region's first modern slavery conviction for county lines groups.
Today there will be a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing to decide how much money should be recovered from the men.
When the men were sentenced, the court heard how the 'Chase' drug gang moved into Great Yarmouth to fill a gap in the market created after a rival gang was disrupted.
Judge Andrew Shaw, who jailed the men, said he had "no doubt" they had taken the place of the 'Deano' network supplying addicts in the town.
Ellis ran the dealer line, which is estimated to have made more than £124,000 over a four-month period, while serving in Wayland Prison, and got Hamilton to run the business for him while he was inside.
Ellis was in regular phone contact on a daily basis with Hamilton from jail speaking in "slang" terms to arrange drug deals and telling him what he should do.
Drugs came from London to Great Yarmouth and investigations revealed that as part of the drugs enterprise two boys aged 15 and 16 had been brought to Norfolk to sell drugs. The two were identified as victims of modern slavery.
The operation was smashed after police arrested Hamilton and Carpenter-Angol in a car at Fullers Hill, in Great Yarmouth, and managed to seize mobile phones, including the dealer phone for the 'Chase' line, which showed more than 30,000 calls and messages had been made over a four-month period.
They recovered messages which included Ellis asking how the business was doing and Hamilton telling him they had loads of customers "happy banging" the phone, which was slang for drug users contacting the line.
While in police custody, police grew suspicious that Carpenter-Angol had secreted drugs inside his body and after several days he was taken to the James Paget University Hospital to have 272 wraps of heroin and 292 wraps of cocaine removed which had a street value totalling £5,640.
After the men were sentenced, Sgt Tony Hogan, of Norfolk Police, said: "Today's sentences reflects the seriousness of these offences and is the culmination of a 12 month investigation into an organised crime group who exploited vulnerable people for their own financial gain.
"This is the perfect example of how a county line operates and it is the first case in Norfolk where we have secured a prosecution under modern slavery laws. Officers in Norfolk not only remain committed to targeting those who supply Class A drugs but also to using the full force of the law available to us to stop those responsible."
Chief Superintendent Dave Marshall added: "This is the first conviction of its kind in Norfolk and East Anglia as a whole. The use of modern slavery legislation is an important aspect of targeting those criminal networks who exploit vulnerable children and adults within communities for their own financial gain. Today's conviction sends a clear message that we will utilise all legislation available to us nationally to stop county lines drug dealing and pursue offenders under Gravity."