Six men were convicted on 28 May after a three week trial at Luton Crown Court for their part in the ‘Ginge Line’, a county drugs supply line running out of Bedford.
The term ‘county drugs lines’ is used to describe gangs, groups or drug networks that supply drugs from urban to suburban areas across the country.
The police investigation into the ‘Ginge Line’ began on 13 February 2020 after a report that five men had taken over a flat in De Parys Avenue and were using it as a base to deal drugs.
They had also kept two other people in the property against their will after a bag of drugs went missing.
In an attempt to locate the drugs, the men subjected the victims to a strip search, threatened and assaulted them with a replica firearm and a machete, before forcing one of them to pay £200.
One of the victims escaped from the property to get help and the police were alerted.
Five men were arrested that night, while a sixth man, Daniel Kight, was arrested in connection to the incident a few weeks later.
All six men were later charged with a number of offences in relation to the ‘Ginge Line’ and released on conditional bail.
Five of the gang were also charged with criminal damage concerning another incident that occurred earlier on 13 February, where CCTV footage showed them trying to break into an address elsewhere in Bedford that was linked to one of the victims.
Later, one of the men, Reece Thandi, was re-arrested on 19 February this year after phone data use linked him to the resumption of the ‘Ginge Line’.
Reece Thandi, 18, of Caister Road, Bedford, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs and criminal damage.
Naimour Ahmed, 21, of Faraday Square, Bedford, was found guilty of two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs.
Amirul Hussain, 32, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs and criminal damage.
Mohammed Ali, 20, of no fixed address, was found guilty of two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs, two counts of false imprisonment, assault, criminal damage and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.
Shamadul Islam 22, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs, and was found guilty of criminal damage, two counts of assault, blackmail, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to case fear and two counts of false imprisonment.
Daniel Kight, 18, of Sandhurst Road, Bedford, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs and criminal damage.
All six will be sentenced in July.
Detective Constable Lindsey Cook, from the force’s Boson gun and gangs team, who investigated the case, said: “This has been a lengthy investigation and I am so pleased the six men have been convicted and that the victims in this particular case have the reassurance that their voices were heard and can now get the support they need.”
Bedfordshire Police joined local councils, healthcare providers, charities, community groups and the county’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit to launch Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation (BAVEX) in March.
BAVEX is a countywide campaign aimed at increasing awareness of all forms of exploitation, including county lines and cuckooing, and how to report it and to access support and advice services.
Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn said: “Vulnerable drug users are often subject to exploitation such as cuckooing, where drug dealers take over a vulnerable person’s property and use it as a base for their criminal enterprise.
“The person living at the property may not object at first, but can soon find their home completely overrun by the drugs gangs and their customers.
“That’s why it is so important we continue to work alongside other agencies to help people who are vulnerable to this exploitation to support them, as well as targeting these drugs gangs and disrupting their drugs lines.”
Anyone who suspects that in a property is being cuckooed or has any information about drug dealing can contact Bedfordshire Police on 101 or via its online reporting centre.
You can also report information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.