Published: 19:43, 12 January 2021
| Updated: 20:32, 12 January 2021
Two Chatham drug dealers who were jailed were among more than 200 County Lines suspects arrested by police.
Since April the County Line and Gang Team arrested 244 suspected county line drug dealers, executed 151 search warrants and seized £156,956 in cash, as well as safeguarding victims of 'cuckooing' - where dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person.
Police say drug dealers targeted by specialist officers were handed prison sentences of more than 135 years between April and December 2020, while in December sentences totalling more than 14 years were given to offenders.
Among them were Donna Bartlett and Matthew Bray, both of Constitution Road, Chatham, who were both jailed for two years and eight months on December 2 at Maidstone Crown Court.
Bartlett, 37, and Bray, 43, both admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin and crack cocaine, while Bartlett also admitted possessing heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply.
Zakariyah Hall of Olive Road, Cricklewood, London was also jailed last month after the 28-year-old admitted controlling two county line phone lines and supplying Class A drugs in Maidstone.
Appearing before Maidstone Crown Court, on December 26, he was sentenced to three years and six months behind bars.
The court heard how Hall had been running the ‘Dan line’ and using a mobile phone to send bulk marketing texts to drug users between August 15, 2019 and September 16, 2020.
A second phone belonging to the "Jerome line" was found to be sending similar texts between December 26, 2019 and September 16, 2020.
The messages were sent frequently and offered cocaine, MDMA and cannabis for sale.
On September 16, a search warrant was executed at his home address and Hall was arrested. Officers seized two phones and SIM cards connected to Dan and Jerome line texts, and also seized £240 cash.
In addition to those serving prison sentences, 40 charges were authorised against people involved in county line drug dealing in December.
Included in this figure were a man and a woman from London who were charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine and heroin after they were stopped in Snodland by a patrol, on December 7.
Zephania Mensah, 23, of no fixed address and Feharri Hemley, 26, of Kimpton Road, London were both arrested and charged with being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs. They appeared before Maidstone Crown Court on January 6.
On December 9, Alando McNeish, 27, was charged with possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply. He was arrested after being stopped by the team in Luton Road, Chatham. He appeared before magistrates and admitted the offence and will appear before Maidstone Crown Court for sentence at a future date.
On December 4, 2020, officers executed a warrant at a house in Folkestone after intelligence suggested a county line was running from the property. The search revealed the line was no longer in operation but officers were able to safeguard a vulnerable person at the house and inquiries are ongoing.
DCI Matthew Talboys of The County Line and Gang Team said: "Despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic it has been very much business as usual for the team who have worked tirelessly to disrupt the supply of drugs into Kent by county line dealers.
"We have been successful in securing a significant number of convictions whilst safeguarding vulnerable individuals exploited by these criminals.
"The team has an extensive knowledge of known users and the criminals attempting to operate in our towns and every arrest we make brings us closer to dismantling more county lines."