22 suspects were arrested last month as a crackdown on county lines drug supply in Kent

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Throughout October 2020, enforcement work by Kent Police also resulted in 26 charges linked to the distribution of heroin and crack cocaine. Specialist units from the County Line and Gang Team continue to clamp down on criminals who target areas including Thanet, Maidstone, Medway and Sheerness. During this period, disruption work across Kent included the execution of nine search warrants. There were also 24 stop and search checks by both plain-clothed and uniformed patrols.

On 22 October, officers stopped a suspicious vehicle in Kingston Crescent, Chatham and a man was arrested who was suspected to have concealed drugs in his body. Elias Balogun, aged 23, of no fixed address, was later charged with two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs (heroin and cocaine). He was further charged with intentionally obstructing a police constable in the exercise of his powers under the Misuse of Drugs Act (in relation to the secretion of drugs). Mr Balogun is currently remanded in custody by the courts, pending further progression of his case.

Earlier in the month, a London man suspected to be dealing in Folkestone was also charged after a search warrant was executed in the town in Bradstone Road. Quantities of heroin and crack cocaine were seized at the address on 6 October, along with a number of mobile phones and cash. Teniola Olanipekun, 27, of Bird in Bush Road, Peckham, was charged with two counts of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, possession of heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply and possession of criminal property. After appearing before Medway Magistrates’ Court on 8 October he was remanded in custody. He is due to appear next at Canterbury Crown Court on 9 November 2020.

In the west of the county, plain-clothed and uniformed officers continue to crack down on dealers who seek to exploit vulnerable people, in areas including Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks. October also saw the official launch of the Maidstone Task Force, a multi-agency team which will bolster efforts to tackle key issues in the town including knife crime and drugs supply.

In the courts, prison sentences linked to county lines totalled more than 12 years in October. They included that of Leandro Da Silva who tried to destroy evidence of his supply chain by hurling a ‘burner’ style phone into the River Medway, as he was being pursued by officers in Maidstone. Although the phone was never recovered, an investigation was able to show Da Silva had been sending text messages from the device to market and sell Class A drugs. On 14 October, Da Silva was sentenced to two years and four months’ imprisonment at a young offenders’ institution.

A London based dealer responsible for running a county line into Dover, known as ‘Ghost’, was also jailed last month. Joseph Odoi, 19, was tracked to his home in east London, where officers seized £8,000 worth of designer clothing. Odoi’s ill-gotten gains also included around £2,000 in cash. He admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin and cocaine and was sentenced to three years and nine months in a young offenders’ institution.

Detective Superintendent Mike Worrall said: ‘The supply and misuse of drugs in any area can have a profound and far-reaching effect on communities. As well as the misery and distress caused by county lines, residents often also end up being plagued with anti-social behaviour, caused by users and dealers entering and leaving properties on a regular basis. The associated fear and anxiety which is caused is simply never acceptable, which is another reason why there will be no let-up in our determination to tackle and dismantle this destructive trade. The vital support we receive from members of the public in helping detect and deter offenders remains vital. By continuing to work together we really are ensuring the message gets through to criminals that operating in Kent simply won’t be tolerated.’