Police identified Eugene Brannigan as the man behind the “Big Ali” line which advertised heroin and crack cocaine for sale from a drugs hotline.
Our intelligence unit uncovered the line through detailed phone work and on 7 January this year we sprung an early morning surprise on Brannigan at the apartment in Lombard Street, Birmingham.
He was arrested from his bed before the baffled 27-year-old asked “how did you get in”?
Little did Brannigan know we’d been investigating Big Ali – which we estimated moved more than £55,000 worth of drugs – since last September, traced him to the top floor and had sourced a key to his flat.
Police enquiries revealed he’d been supplying drugs across Balsall Heath and Birmingham city centre.
He initially refused to provide his phone PIN – and had tried to disguise the drugs hotline by changing its IMEI identity sticker – but we accessed the handset and found he regularly sent text messages marketing drugs to around 90 customers.
We also found evidence that Brannigan, from Woodville Road in Birmingham, was cooking up crack cocaine in the flat.
He went on to admit supplying Class A drugs and at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (25 Feb) was jailed for six years and nine months.
Detective Constable James Clarke from our County Lines Task Force, said: “People may be more familiar with us forcing entry to properties when we’re targeting drugs gangs – but when we’ve got a key there’s a greater element of surprise!
“He’s been given a jail term of nearly seven years which underlines how seriously the courts view the organised supply of drugs.
“Although we didn’t identify anyone else involved in the Big Ali line, phone evidence showed Brannigan was directing others to deliver drugs. We know the County Lines ‘business model’ often sees young people being exploited and put in serious danger by drug dealing.”
“We see too often that County Lines ruins lives and we are determined to go after people who use vulnerable people as commodities for their own greed.”