13:18, February 15 292 0 theguardian.com

2019-02-15 13:18:05
Llanelli hit by wave of 'county lines' drug gangs

A Welsh town has become a “thriving market for class A drugs” due to a surge in “county lines” gangs, a court has heard.

The coastal town of Llanelli near Swansea is being targeted by gangs from Birmingham and Liverpool selling drugs like crack and heroin.

Organised crime groups have been sending dealers – often youngsters with no criminal records to avoid suspicion – to the town.

The details emerged at the sentencing of a teenager who was sent to Llanelli to sell crack cocaine by a criminal gang.

Cameron Davy, 18, from Birmingham was found in a block of flats at Clos Dewi Medi in Morfa, Llanelli with 29 wraps of the class A drug and £1,132 in cash on 10 January.

Swansea crown court heard that police knew the teenager was from the Birmingham area and believed he may have been linked to a county lines operation.

Jim Davis, prosecuting, said when officers analysed the defendant’s phone they found numerous texts relating to drug deals over the preceding weeks and messages that showed he had regular contact with a criminal drugs gang known to police as the “Marco line.”

Davy, of Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply and to possessing criminal property. The court heard he had no previous convictions.

Kate Williams, for Davy, said her client’s dealing had lasted a “couple of weeks” and he had been due to be paid £300 for his trip to Llanelli.

She said the defendant was very much at the bottom of the chain of command of the gang and had declined to name those who had sent him to Carmarthenshire.

The barrister said when Davy’s mother had received the phone call to say her son was in custody she had no idea where Llanelli was, let alone why he was there.

Williams added that gangs tended to use people with no previous convictions to do their work because they were less likely to come to the attention of police.

Recorder Simon Mills sentenced Davy to two years and four months in youth detention.

In January this year, county lines drug dealer Jerome Wallis, 20, was jailed for eight years after admitting abducting a 15-year-old boy from London to sell drugs in Swansea.

Jerome Wallis, 20, of Southwark, London admitted arranging or facilitating the travel of a child with a view to exploit, contrary to the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

That conviction was the first of its kind in Wales and only the second in the UK, according to South Wales police.