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Drug dealers created 'brands' to push crack and heroin sales in Stratford and Leamington

A CRIMINAL gang created two different brand names for its drug dealing operations in Stratford and Leamington, a court was told.

Class A drugs were moved out of Coventry to the two towns as part of an illegal operation that had been set up like a legitimate business.

But a Warwickshire Police operation led to gang members being convicted of conspiring to supply heroin and conspiring to supply crack cocaine.

Prosecutor Matthew Brook told the jury at Warwick Crown Court: “This case involves a county line which ran from Coventry, where many of the people you will hear about lived, to both Stratford-upon Avon and Leamington Spa.

“Drug dealing is a crime, but it’s also a business – and many of the ideas and principles ordinary businesses use, also apply to drug dealing businesses. Like legitimate businesses, it’s useful for a drugs business to have a brand name, so customers know which business they are dealing with, which business to contact for their daily fix and which business to recommend to fellow drug-users. The business in this case used two different brand names – the CJ line and the Kano line.”

Both brands had their own telephone lines, which were also used to send out ‘advertising messages’.

Four men arrested all denied the charges. One, Jordan Hill, 30, of Constance Road, Birmingham, changed his pleas to guilty as the trial was about to begin. Paul Walker, 20, of Roseberry Avenue, Coventry, and Lewis Kerr, 29, of Westminster Road, Coventry were both found guilty. Karl Wheeler, 30, of Drayton Avenue, Stratford, was found not guilty of both charges.

However, Mr Brook said other gang members were also involved and arrested.

  • In January 2019, Levi Pollard-Merson, 28, of Widdecombe Close, Coventry, was arrested at an address in Christie Way, Stratford. He was caught next to 36 wraps of crack cocaine and 33 wraps of heroin worth £10 each. He admitted the charges.
  • In May 2019, Gary Brown, of Winston Avenue, Coventry, was arrested behind Stratford Leisure Centre and found with 49 wraps of heroin and 98 of crack. Brown was working for Pollard-Merson on the CJ line.
  • In October 2019, Brown was arrested again after he crashed a car as he tried to get away from police in Leamington. He had two wraps of heroin and £400 in cash.
  • The following month Pollard-Merson drove to Leamington with Jordan Hill and were arrested after the police used a stinger to stop their car. In the road near to the car was a Kano line phone and 180 wraps of class A drugs. Hill denied knowing anything about the drugs, but Mr Brook pointed out that in 2018 he had been convicted at Exeter Crown Court of being involved in another ‘county lines’ operation.
  • In December 2018 Kieron Hill met two men in an alleyway and was handed £20 before they noticed the police and made of. Later that evening, he left an address in Carew Close, Stratford, and got into a taxi, which was stopped, and he had more than £890 in cash on him and, between his buttocks, a bag containing 33 wraps of heroin and 17 of crack.
  • In January last year Kieron Hill was found on a canal towpath in Stratford and, again between his buttocks, he had a package of 31 wraps of crack and ten of heroin.
  • The next month a Seat Leon driven by Kerr pulled onto the Fisherman’s car park on the outskirts of Stratford, and he and his passenger Nell Desnousse, who has pleaded guilty, were arrested. No drugs were found on Kerr, but Desnousse had 80 wraps of crack and 49 of heroin.
  • In June last year Wheeler left his Drayton Avenue home and cycled to an alleyway where the police suspected he was involved in a drug deal, and he was detained. However, Wheeler said his contact with the CJ Line was to purchase drugs, funded by busking, begging and from benefit payments.
  • On 15th June the police stopped a silver Astra on the A46 near Warwick, and Pollard-Merson, who was driving, had £270 on him, while his passenger, Walker, had more than £1,300 and a phone with the Kano Line number on it. Walker claimed the money was to pay for flowers and a headstone for his father who had passed away two weeks earlier.
  • After the jury’s verdicts, Judge Peter Cooke adjourned the case for reports to be prepared.

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