Published: 13:58, 19 October 2019
| Updated: 14:06, 19 October 2019
Three men who coordinated a drugs gang supplying heroin and cocaine in a Kent town have been jailed.
Officers investigating the "county lines" supply of Class A drugs in Maidstone found that a specific phone was being used to organise a number of dealers in the town.
After several suspected street dealers were arrested, mobile phones were seized and analysed by police.
They each showed texts from a specific phone, relating to the marketing of available Class A drugs and detailing arrangements for their delivery.
Enquiries into the phone led officers to find that 19-year-old Reis Bhandal had bought credit for it several times between June 24 and July 6.
Further investigation found that 35-year-old Gavin Bond, of Mote Road in Maidstone, and 19-year-old Peace Alaka, of The Grove in Gravesend, were working for Bhandal in coordinating the drugs supply network.
This included delivering drugs to dealers, and providing them with access to a property in Maidstone.
On July 19, officers visited Bhandal’s home in Old Road West, Gravesend, and arrested him on suspicion of drug dealing.
Alaka, who was at the address, was also detained.
Police searched the premises, and found a phone without a SIM card as well as a damaged SIM card on a windowsill.
These were later revealed to be the identified phone and SIM card, which had been used by Bhandal in the drugs network.
On July 31, Bond was also arrested and all three were later charged in connection with drug dealing.
They pleaded not guilty at Woolwich Crown Court but, on October 9, Bhandal was convicted of two counts of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and two counts of being concerned in the supply of heroin.
Alaka and Bond were both convicted of one count of being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine and one count of being concerned in the supply of heroin.
Yesterday, at the same court, Bhandal and Alaka were sentenced to six years and three years respectively in a Young Offender Institution.
Bond was jailed for two years and three months.
'Our efforts to track you down and bring you to justice will be relentless' - Ch Insp Ray Quiller
"The use of mobile phones enabled the advertising of whatever drugs were available and their delivery to the dealers on our streets. However, thanks to the efforts of our investigators, it was these phones that led to their downfall.
"Once again, a clear message has been sent to those who seek to supply our town with Class A drugs - our efforts to track you down and bring you to justice will be relentless and ultimately successful."
More by this authorLydia Chantler-Hicks