Heroin and cocaine dealers jailed for total of 27 years for plying trade in Norwich
PUBLISHED: 20:00 07 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:38 08 September 2018
Seven city drug dealers have been jailed for a combined 27 years after being caught in an undercover police sting.
Two county line drug networks - the Adrian line and the Peter line - have been disrupted as six of their members were sent to prison on Friday.
They had been duped into selling heroin and crack cocaine to an officer known as ‘Tommo’ during a seven month operation ending in arrests in April of this year.
Norwich Crown Court heard how Manley Vidal, 26, was the registered owner of two phone numbers used by the Peter network, and had ineptly sent text messages advertising heroin and crack cocaine to his social worker.
Chris Youell, prosecuting, told the court Vidal was “much higher in the hierarchy than the others”.
He said: “There are two phones linked to the Peter group by Tommo. When he called to speak to someone called Peter who is a fictional character with a London accent, it is actually Mr Vidal and his colleagues.
“A number of adverts are sent out by groups to various potential customers. There is something of an error when Mr Vidal offered drugs to his social worker on a number of occasions.
“She receives a text saying ‘back on now, new deliveries’. She asks who this is. It is obvious he was advertising drugs to his social worker, who, somewhat confused, reported the matter to police.
“He was quite friendly with Mr Wheatland, who for the third time in his career was helping Tommo buy drugs on behalf of Norfolk Constabulary.”
Mark Wheatland, 53, Richard Law, 43, and Neil Brewster, 36, all admitted supplying heroin and/or crack to Tommo on a number of occasions as part of the Peter group.
Ian James, mitigating for Vidal, said: “It is difficult to infer any sophistication...and he isn’t very good at it.
“When he was 13 his mother received a six year prison sentence for supplying Class A drugs,” he added. “Throughout a significant period of his life he was living in a crack den. He is a drug user and has been exposed to that environment from a very early age.”
Gavin Cowe, for Wheatland, said he had “been used” by the group as a drug addict of 35 years.
Mark Roochove, for Law, said he had “never been a dealer”, but had been addicted to heroin for 25 years.
“He supplied on two occasions because those he was with couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves,” he said.
John Morgans, for Brewster, who has convictions for 112 offences, said: “He is an out of work drug addict. It is those at the very bottom most likely to get caught. He has never been involved in this type of supply offence before.”
Vidal, of Barnards Yard, was jailed for four years three months. Wheatland, of Wellington Green, was jailed for five years eight months as a three strike dealer. Law, of Northumberland Street, was jailed for 30 months, and Brewster, of no fixed abode, was jailed for three years.
Two further dealers jailed on Friday were Michael Katindi, 28, who admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and Rufin Kongolo, 23, who admitted six counts of supply in their roles for the Adrian network.
Mr Youell told the court Kongolo was “one of the main street dealers for the Adrian group”.
When Kongolo was arrested on April 20 he had 29 wraps of crack cocaine and the contact details for Tommo written down, alongside a sim card which had bulk text messages advertising sale of Class A drugs.
Katindi’s DNA was found on drugs sold to Tommo by Kongolo, and he was arrested on April 20. On February 16 he had been stopped by police on Fishergate driving a Range Rover Evoque, and a samurai sword was found in the car.
“Significantly when he was arrested there were some packages found and a sim card with contact details and advertising texts,” added Mr Youell.
Gavin Cowe, mitigating for Katindi, said a career as a professional boxer had come to an end through injury, when the conspiracy began.
“He was a safe keeper of drugs, phones and sim cards,” he said. “As a result of him being visited by those higher up, police have advised him to leave Norwich and move back with his parents.”
John Morgans, for Kongolo, said: “He felt he had very few choices and realises now any choice would have been better than the one he ended up taking. His role involved mixing with those who are addicted to Class A drugs and he saw first hand the misery they bring. He is thoroughly ashamed.”
Katindi, of Fishergate was jailed for four years, and Kongolo, of Constitution Hill, was jailed for five.
“Lowest rung of the ladder”
A homeless three-strike burglar who turned to drug dealing to support his own habit has been jailed for 28 months.
Benjamin Matthews, 43, of no fixed abode was caught selling 56pc purity heroin to an undercover police officer in Norwich on December 20 last year.
He was on licence after a jail term for burglary and has since been recalled.
Chris Youell, prosecuting at Norwich Crown Court, said: “He is clearly a long term drug user and a lot of these offences were to feed a drug habit.”
Damien Moore, mitigating for Matthews, said he was “the lowest rung of the ladder” in the drug network.
“He supplied on one occasion to support his own addiction to Class A drugs,” he said. “He said this supply made his own purchase cheaper on this occasion.
“It is childhood trauma that triggered the drug misuse. Now in his 40s he is showing encouraging signs of change.”
Dealers can “expect jail”
Judge Anthony Bate, presiding over more than 50 cases charged under the umbrella of Operation Granary, warned drug dealers could “expect to be jailed”.
“In spring 2018, Norfolk Constabulary officers made a series of coordinated interventions targeted at ‘county lines’ networks dealing Class A drugs - heroin and crack cocaine - on the streets of Norwich,” said Judge Bate.
“Arrests were made when there was sufficient test purchase evidence from a deployed undercover officer known to us as Tommo and associated surveillance sightings. Mobile phone traffic was studied. Some phone holders were arrested in London. The oldest defendant sent here is 57; the youngest 16.”
Arrests were made in April when Norfolk Police moved to enforcement after months of gathering intelligence through their undercover work.
Judge Bate added: “The message will continue to go out from this court that anyone who joins in the distribution of Class A drugs in Norfolk can usually expect to be jailed.”