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Barrister says arresting drug runners only “cuts head off hydra” of county line groups

One of the occupants at a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, in handcuffs during police raids in Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

One of the occupants at a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, in handcuffs during police raids in Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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As three teenagers admitted a total of 18 drug dealing offences in Norwich a lawyer has said convicting drug runners only acts as “cutting off the head of a hydra”.

Two 17-years-olds and one 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted various offences of supply or possession of heroin and cocaine at Norwich Crown Court on Wednesday.

They were caught as part of a seven month undercover operation from Norfolk Police code named Operation Granary.

One defendant - who turns 18 on Saturday and admitted five counts of supply and one of possession with intent - was described by Chris Youell, prosecuting, as the “phone holder” for a county line running into the city.

He denied conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. That charge will lie on file.

“He is a young man who is highly involved in the county lines drug network,” said Mr Youell. “To say the chain has been broken would be a little optimistic. When the foot soldiers are arrested these groups get a new phone number and start again.

“It is a bit like cutting the head off a hydra.”

The teenager was remanded back into the care of Hertfordshire County Council.

A representative from the council said he has emergency accommodation, but as of Saturday he will be released from their custody when he turns 18 years old.

He will be brought back before Norwich Crown Court on Friday when a decision will be made over his bail.

The 16-year-old admitted four counts of supply but denied conspiracy and was bailed to await sentence, while the other 17-year-old, who admitted four counts of supply and four of possession with intent, was bailed with a curfew and an exclusion zone of areas in Norwich for him not to enter.

Also charged under Operation Granary was Neil Brewster, 35, who appeared from HMP Peterborough and denied conspiracy but admitted two counts of supplying cocaine.

30-year-old Yasmin Luparello, of Norwich, admitted one count of supplying heroin and one of possession. She was denied bail by Judge Anthony Bate, who said her risk of reoffending was “too great”, and remanded her into custody.

A total of 43 people have appeared before Norwich Crown Court in the last month after being charged as part of Operation Granary.

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