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'County lines' dealers operating in Gravesend locked up for almost 23 years

Five men involved in dealing Class A drugs in a “county lines” case have been jailed for a total of almost 23 years.

Seun Daramola, who played a leading role in the so-called Star Line operation controlled from London and running in Gravesend, was given the longest sentence of six years and four months.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the drugs operation ran throughout last year and ended when arrests were made in December.

From left, Seun Daramola, Rene Joseph and Kirk Huggins. Picture: Kent Police (5867372)
From left, Seun Daramola, Rene Joseph and Kirk Huggins. Picture: Kent Police (5867372)

Judge Julian Smith said: “Class A drugs are an absolute blight. They ruin lives and they ruin society. They cause damage at all levels to those involved in them, peddle them and those who are victims and use them.”

County lines gangs operate from major cities and use a network of dealers in suburban and rural areas to supply drugs.

Rene Joseph, 32, said to be above the level of a street dealer, was jailed for five years and three months.

Kirk Huggins, 31, was jailed for four years while Christopher Bolokor, 22, and Tasham Reid-Watson, 21, were each sentenced to three-and-a-half years.

Christopher Bolokor, left, and Tasham Reid-Watson. Picture: Kent Police (5867449)
Christopher Bolokor, left, and Tasham Reid-Watson. Picture: Kent Police (5867449)

Sally Taylor, 43, Lee Tait, 39, both from Gravesend, and Thomas Street, 45, from Northfleet, played lesser roles and will be sentenced in January.

Prosecutor Ben Irwin said a number of others were also involved in the Star Line and had been prosecuted.

Bolokor, of Woking Close, Putney, Huggins, of Manor Grove in Peckham, Reid-Watson, of Willington Road in Stockwell, Joseph, of Guinness Trust, Stamford Hill, all in London, and Taylor, of Princes Road in Gravesend and Tait, of Overcliffe in Gravesend, all denied possessing the drugs with intent to supply, but were convicted.

Taylor and Tait admitted their involvement after the trial started.

The gang were dealing heroin. Stock image
The gang were dealing heroin. Stock image

Daramola, 34, of Springfield, Clapton, east London, admitted conspiracy to supply drugs and Thomas Street, Wallis Park, Northfleet, pleaded guilty to dealing before the trial started.

One bust was in Colyer Road, Northfleet, on May 19 last year when an officer saw four men, two of whom were Christopher Bolokor and Tasham Reid-Watson.

One of the others, who was gaunt and unkempt, walked into an alleyway behind Waterdales, with the other man, who had a dog with him.

Another officer kept watch and saw Bolokor and Reid-Watson leaning into a car, which then drove off.

Judge Julian Smith
Judge Julian Smith

Officers later raided a house in Waterdales.

Bolokor fled and threw a carrier bag into a garden. He jumped from a height and injured his ankle. He had a small bag of cannabis in his pocket.

Reid-Watson also made off, but was caught in a garden. Officers went into a one bedroom bungalow there and found it was “disgusting” with a rancid smell.

Various items were found, including phones, which showed links to the Star Line. The bag Bolokor discarded contained 13 wraps of heroin.

“This is clearly a callous business with the advantage of county lines.” - Judge Smith

Ronnie Malek, for Daramola, submitted his client was “a local manager”, rather than a Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord.

Passing sentence, Judge Smith said: “This is clearly a callous business with the advantage of county lines. It kept the main offenders away from the area where there is dealing.”

Daramola was one of the principal beneficiaries sending others to perform the role, although he was caught with drugs and £1,125 after fleeing from police in a BMW.

He was banned for five years for dangerous driving.

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