Published: 13:29, 16 December 2020
| Updated: 13:31, 16 December 2020
Five drug dealers who operated a county line supplying heroin and crack cocaine have been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.
The group was responsible for distributing Class A drugs to users in Ramsgate for almost a year, through a supply chain known as the ‘Scouse’ line.
They are Jonathan Norman, Christopher Charlton, James Martin, Zena Watts and Samantha McKeown - all from Ramsgate.
Their operation was dismantled after police proved that between June last year and May this year, all five were linked to a dedicated phone line to advertise drugs to local users by sending out bulk marketing text messages.
The group was arrested after police simultaneously raided a number of properties in Ramsgate on July 22.
A number of phones were seized containing data linked to the line, which included messages such as "on at 9 with best of both fast drops" - indicating that from 9am fast delivery was available on high quality heroin and crack cocaine.
Analysis of one of the phones also led to the discovery of conversations between Watts and Norman, making calculations about drugs supply and users.
"We are committed to targeting those we believe are responsible for the misery and destruction of lives connected to these harmful substances"
The suspects were charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court.
Last Thursday (December 10), Norman, aged 45, of Clements Road; Charlton, aged 29, of Quetta Road; and Martin, aged 53, of Royal Road were each sentenced to four years in prison.
Watts, aged 37, of Clements Road, was sentenced the following day to five years and six months.
McKeown, aged 41 of Quetta Road, received a custodial sentence of three years and six months
Det Sgt Jason Booth of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "I’m pleased that we have been able to successfully dismantle what was a significant drugs supply chain into Thanet, facilitated by mass marketing through the means of mobile phones and text messages.
"The end purpose of this chain was to sell heroin and crack cocaine to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, drugs which cause significant harm as well as the associated criminality which can blight our local communities.
"We are committed to targeting those we believe are responsible for the misery and destruction of lives connected to these harmful substances, but we also continue to need your help, so remember to report any suspicious behaviour.
"By continuing to work together we are getting the message through to criminals that ultimately we will ensure their actions result in prison sentences."