Police have cracked down on a county lines gang running from Bedford to Cambridge, leading to three men being jailed for a total of 15 years for a drug dealing conspiracy.
Louis Gerrard, 25, of no fixed abode, and Arjun Singh, 25, of Kempston Road, Bedford, were sentenced to six years each after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs at Luton Crown Court.
Louis Chedworth, 34, of Marsh Lane, Bedford, was sentenced to three years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
The men were arrested following a series of warrants across Bedford in March, where drugs and mobile phones were seized.
Utilising phone data, Bedfordshire Police officers were able to prove that the three men were involved in county lines activity, including a number of text messages suggesting they were offering and selling drugs, as well as pinpointing their locations.
In October 2019, Singh was arrested in Cambridge with several wraps of Class A drugs.
Chedworth was arrested in Hertfordshire in December with 39 wraps of cocaine and eight wraps of heroin.
County lines typically involve drugs gangs selling their products in other towns using a dedicated phone line. In this case, two drugs lines were identified with links from Bedford into Cambridge.
These gangs are often linked to serious violence and intimidation, grooming and exploiting young people to run drug dealing networks across the country.
This gang’s exploitation of young people to sell their products was considered an aggravating factor in the sentences of Gerrard and Singh.
In this case, Bedfordshire Police will be pursuing a slavery and trafficking prevention order; a civil power which puts certain conditions on anyone suspected of being involved in human trafficking.
The force will also look to secure a drug dealing telecommunications restriction order (DDTRO) on the two phones identified in the case, effectively taking the numbers out of service.
Detective Inspector Mark Pugh, from the force’s Boson guns and gangs team, said, “After a lengthy investigation we were able to show this trio’s affiliation to county lines.
“Drugs are a catalyst for many crime types, with these organised crime groups often driving much of the serious violence, exploitation and anti-social behaviour which blights our communities.
“We will continue to make Bedfordshire a hostile place for dealers looking to operate in our county. It is our job to stamp out county lines and protect vulnerable and young people from being exploited.”
Detective Superintendent Duncan Young added, “We are leading the way among police forces nationally to tackle the illegal drugs market alongside our partners.
“Bedfordshire faces a major challenge from both county lines coming into the county, as well as our local gangs exploiting children and forcing them to sell drugs elsewhere.
“We are determined to stop both of these threats and pursue the most serious offenders, alongside working with other agencies to help people vulnerable to this exploitation by organised crime and show them a better path.”
Anyone with information about drug dealing can contact Bedfordshire Police on 101 or via our online reporting centre. All of these reports are fed into police intelligence systems and help officers build up a better picture of organised crime.
You can also report information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
For more information or support about getting out of a gang, please visit bedsveru.org