London gang jailed for bringing £250,000 of drugs in to Great Yarmouth
- Credit: Norfolk Police
The boss behind a drugs gang responsible for trafficking around £250,000 worth of crack cocaine and heroin into Great Yarmouth and bringing misery to its streets has been jailed for eight years.
Aldenir Pinto, of Warley Avenue in Essex, was orchestrating the operation bringing more than a kilogram of Class A drugs from London into Norfolk between August 2016 and March 2017.
The 25-year-old was operating under the brand name 'Apollo', and had as two deputies Yasmina Ghanamme and Dilan Baran, both arrested at properties in Great Yarmouth in January and February.
Phone data was able to link Pinto to the operation, and all three admitted two counts of possession with intent to supply last summer.
They had set up a base on Walpole Road in Great Yarmouth, using 'heavy drug addict' Ashley Papper, who was renting a room in the property.
Their operation was uncovered by officers working on Operation Gravity - a campaign to crack down on drugs in Norfolk - alongside the Metropolitan Police.
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Arizuna Asante, prosecuting the four gang members, told the court 52,000 calls and texts could be identified on the Apollo phone lines over the course of the conspiracy.
'It was a busy operation,' he said. 'The impact it has on drug users and members of the public in Great Yarmouth is it blights the area. The crime that has been committed here causes misery and social disconnection.
'Effectively they were cuckooing residences that have been commandeered for the sale and supply of drugs. Over 209 days of the conspiracy we are looking at drugs in excess of 1kg and a value of up to £250,000.'
Pinto had first got involved in selling Class A drugs at the age of 15, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.
James Barnard, mitigating for Pinto, said he had been 'vulnerable and preyed on by the older drug dealers, and coerced into that position'.
'He is a bright young man with a promising future,' he said. 'That makes the tragedy even worse in his case. He is remorseful and deeply regrets his actions.'
Unyime Davies, for Baran, said: 'He is a young man, and a rather naive young man, but he does have an understanding of the damage he has caused.
'He got into the position of smoking cannabis from an early age, which led him to association with the wrong people and led him into debt. He is growing up and has learned a very hard lesson. He says he has been incredibly stupid.'
The court also heard Ghanamme had come to the country from Algeria and got involved in the drug trade after being left 'homeless and living in a park in Stratford'.
Angharad Mousely, mitigating for her, said: 'She found herself in this country without any legal status. At the time she felt no real recourse to law enforcement agencies or those who could have assisted her not to become involved in is enterprise. She was a very young woman with nowhere to go. She faces a very difficult and uncertain future.'
Karen Walton, for Papper, told the court he had been a drug addict since the age of 23.
'His mother had 10 children and he was the tenth child, sadly brought up by social services,' she said. 'In his early 20s he became a chaotic drug user. Prison sadly for Mr Papper has been beneficial to him and gives him the structure the state gave him as a juvenile. He is one of the state's pathetic drug users who gets involved in quite complicated drug use.'
Judge Nigel Peters QC, jailing the gang for a total of 16 years and four months, said: 'You all agreed to take part in this vile trade. I need not say how deadly harmful these drugs can be when given to the wrong people. This was a large scale operation.
'Thankfully it came to an end by the observations and alertness of the police in March.'
Det Sgt Craig Bidwell, intelligence co-ordinator for Operation Gravity, said the operation was 'typical' of the county lines business model for drug dealers.
'It was a standard set up where they established themselves as a series of addresses in Great Yarmouth where they would conduct their dealing operations from, either using a London resident who would come up here with the drugs or, most of the time, they would use the occupant of the premises to run the drugs out for them,' he said.
'They were a fairly well established line and had been in Yarmouth for several months that we knew about. They were one of our more prominent lines in the town.'
He said the conviction of Pinto, as the organiser of the line, showed a real success.
'We can nick drug runners up here left right and centre, but that doesn't achieve anything unless you go back to the point where it is being controlled from,' he said. 'Since Pinto has been arrested that line has completely vanished.'
Ghanamme, 23, of Sunray Avenue in London, was jailed for two years and eight months, Baran, 20, of Waddington Street, London, was jailed for three years and four months, while Papper, of no fixed abode in Great Yarmouth, was jailed for two years and four months.