COUNTY lines drugs gang members have been jailed for their roles in a £1million drug supply chain operating between Birmingham and Warwick.
Michael Hedli, Steven Bicknell, Paul Hodgson and Ian Ward had all been found guilty after a trial at Warwick Crown Court of conspiring to supply heroin and crack cocaine.
Following an adjournment, they appeared in the dock with Shaan Khan, who had pleaded guilty, to be sentenced.
Hedli, 41, whose home in Humphris Street, Warwick, was said to have operated as a shop for the sale of the drugs, was jailed for six-and-a-half years.
Ian Ward, 45, of Churchill Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, but who had previously lived in Beauchamp Road, Kenilworth, who made a number of drug runs, was jailed for five-and-a-half years.
Bicknell, 33, of Field Barn Road, Hampton Magna; and Hodgson, 26, of Holly Road, Handsworth, were both given sentences of three-and-a-half years.
Khan, 21, from Kenilworth, but whose address cannot be given, was sentenced to three years and nine months after being given credit for his guilty plea.
Prosecutor Michael Shaw had said Meshach Duncan, 30, of Weeford Drive, Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, was ‘the ringleader of this gang,’ and Mateusz Frasunkiewicz, 20, of Buckley Road, Leamington, his ‘number two.’
They and two others, Kieran Aldred, 20, of St Michaels Road, Warwick; and Dajon Donaldson, 19, of Coniston Crescent, Great Barr, Birmingham, had pleaded guilty and will be sentenced at a later date.
Mr Shaw said the charge involved a plan to supply drugs out of Birmingham to Warwickshire.
He said: “These men would supply you with crack or heroin – they weren’t bothered which, as long as you paid for it.
“There are two halves to this – the Birmingham end which was the source and the supply, and the Warwickshire end who would collect the drugs or have them delivered, and then supply them.”
The main dealers in the Warwick and Leamington area were Frasunkiewicz, known as Polish Matty, and then Aldred, described as one of his lieutenants.
“Next to him is Michael Hedli who lived at an address in Humphris Street which was one of the centres of the Warwickshire supply chain. His address was used as a staging post.
“A stream of addicts are seen coming to that address like wasps to a honey pot.
“The police became aware of a large-scale supply of class A drugs in this county, and they started an operation and pulled together various strands of evidence.
“There were hundreds of drug runs, bringing tens of thousands of pounds of class A drugs into this county.”
Mr Shaw said Hodgson transported drugs from Birmingham, and Ward and Bicknell had acted as drivers for drug runs, while Khan was a street-level dealer.
The conspiracy operated from February 2015 until October the following year, and when drugs arrived in Warwick, bulk texts were sent out to addicts to inform them they were available.
Jailing the five in the dock, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano, who observed the operation was estimated to have involved drugs worth a total of more than £1million, told them: “The conspiracy itself was a large-scale organised network.
“None of you five played a leading role, and many of you played a lesser role, but you all played your parts, no matter how small.
“None of you are hardened criminals who went into this out of some kind of desire to make large sums of money, and some of you have been very, very seriously affected by class A drugs yourselves.
“None of you are men of good character, but none of you are here with serious previous convictions, and none of you have any previous convictions for the supply of class A drugs.
“This was not your operation, and you were all, to an extent, used by others higher up the supply chain. None of you made any significant gain, mostly just enough to feed your own habits.”
Following the sentencing, Det Insp Alan Townsend from Warwickshire Police Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “This was a well organised operation that saw drugs being transported into Warwickshire on an industrial scale. It was a typical county lines drugs business, with runners used to transport the goods from a large city into smaller towns
“The convictions follow a long and complex investigation and I’d like to praise the persistence and professionalism of everyone involved in the operation.
“Drug use fuels violence and petty crime, increasing pressure on police, health services and other public agencies; It’s vital that we do all we can to cut off supply lines such as this and ensure those responsible are put behind bars.
“As with many investigations into serious organised crime groups, this investigation started following local operations carried out by local policing teams and the intelligence they gathered as a result of these operations.
“These local operations helped the serious organised crime unit to piece together the bigger picture and target those responsible.
“Intelligence provided by members of the public was key to bringing about this conviction. People should be reassured that we do act on all the information they provide about drug dealing in their communities and we do take action.”