Image: Anthony Hayes
Breakfast is served’ – the brazen text message sent to hundreds by a London drug dealer before instructing a boy from Barry, age 14, to deliver his drugs.
A Chief Inspector has warned that residents across Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan should be on high alert following recent convictions of drug dealers from outside the area.
On Monday, 5th February, two men – Kieran Carolan, 18, from Birmingham and Anthony Hayes, 61, from Bridgend – were jailed for three-and-a-half years at Cardiff Crown Court for possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply.
They were arrested having sold crack and heroin from a flat on Coity Road, Bridgend. Carolan was part of an organised crime group from Birmingham, cashing in on Bridgend’s drug addicts. He was allowed by Anthony Hayes – himself a drug user – to use his flat as a base, on the condition that he received two bags of heroin for free and £20 in cash every week.
Weeks previously, on December 27th, 2017, Byron Facey Gordon, 36, from the Lambeth area of London, was jailed for five years and eight months at Cardiff Crown Court after pleading guilty to possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply following a separate police investigation. He used a 14-year-old boy from Barry to deliver crack cocaine and heroin to his customers in the town. The boy’s mum rang police when she noticed her young son with cash, wearing expensive new trainers and riding a new bike, having sometimes not been seen for days on end.
These concerning cases bear the hallmarks of what police across the UK call a County Lines drugs operation. County Lines is the name given to the telephone numbers used to manage provincial drugs markets by crime gangs in big cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham – their operations are usually characterised by the exploitation of vulnerable people to sell drugs in other cities, towns and villages.
Chief Inspector Lisa Gore, said: “Recent convictions should be a wake-up call for everyone. Gangs from outside are trying to infiltrate our communities and they are targeting vulnerable and desperate people to establish strong local bases for their drugs operations.
“They’ll target young people, giving them the things that they can’t afford themselves, such as trainers, bikes, or gaming consoles, or offer things that people desperately need, such as drugs to drug addicts. They’ll use these people to run their drugs from street to street to create a thriving local businesses with strong local connections.”
Byron Facey Gordon was apprehended on 29th November during the arrest phase of an operation which began months earlier. Officers identified him as the owner of a mobile phone number which featured repeatedly in police enquiries.
He would send out blanket text messages to hundreds of drug addicts offering crack cocaine and heroin and – as if running a local café – he’d announce that ’breakfast is served’ and introduce ‘lunch time’, ‘two for one’ and ‘happy hour’ offers to entice orders. He would use a 14-year-old local boy who he befriended to deliver his drugs and fulfil all of those orders, many times a day.
Chief Inspector Lisa Gore, added: “The additional threat to communities is the impact that these gangs can have if they take hold. Not only do they exploit people, they run their business with ruthless violence often inflicted with weapons such as knives. In places such as Barry and Bridgend – where knife crime and such violence is so rare – it threatens to disrupt the stability of the area which can have disastrous consequences.
“Our number one priority is to protect vulnerable people and this includes the children and the vulnerable adults who are ruthlessly exploited by these gangs to do their dirty work. Someone may be vulnerable to exploitation by organised crime groups for a number of reasons, but invariably there is a power imbalance. Factors include age, gender, cognitive ability, or social isolation.”
She added: “We will continue to work with our partners to tackle this problem and to prevent what is a very real threat from taking hold, but communities are our eyes and ears and they must shoulder some responsibility. We rely on the public to report suspicious behaviour and to act on their instincts, just as the 14-year-old boy’s mum did in the example we’ve given.”
Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns added: “I want to pay tribute to South Wales Police for their unfaltering effort in tackling the sale of drugs. This is a first class example of where the police have been proactive in keeping the community safe.
“Late last year I joined local police officers for a night shift in Barry. Following this experience, my already deep-rooted respect and gratitude to the police for their work was heightened further still, as I cannot overstate how hard they work to protect us.
“The sale and abuse of drugs are crimes which devastate the lives of too many individuals and their families in Barry and in the wider Vale. I have been in touch with the Home Office to seek advice on how best I, in my role, can support the local police force as they undertake the task of stamping down on drug dealing in the Vale of Glamorgan.”
Anybody who suspects drug dealing in their community is urged to contact 101 immediately or they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Anybody concerned about drug abuse can contact the free and confidential Dan 24/7 Helpline 0808 8082234, visit http://www.dan247.org.uk/ or text DAN to 81066.