Four members of the ‘Mitch’ gang were sentenced at Chester Crown Court for their part in a drugs conspiracy with a potential value of between £71,000 to £142,000.
They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs at an earlier hearing.
Between July 2019 and July 2020, Jamal Conteh and Zakaira Ahmed worked as a team along with others, using two ‘graft’ mobile phones to advertise and facilitate the supply of Class A in Macclesfield.
The first graft phone was activated on 16 July 2019 when Conteh travelled to Macclesfield to establish and develop the line, sending various messages advertising drugs to vulnerable users in the town.
In September 2019 Conteh recruited three youths from Northamptonshire to assist with the drug dealing operation. During separate interventions, officers from the Macclesfield County Lines BIT team recovered 91 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine, multiple phones and £860 in cash.
Ahmed took turns in managing the graft phone in Liverpool while Conteh spent his time in Macclesfield dabbling in street dealing.
When Conteh wanted to ‘sit off’ he would order Oluwafemi Odumuyiwa and Cheryl Hamand to deal on his behalf.
In a bid avoid detection, Odumuyiwa began hiring vehicles and chauffeured Conteh around Macclesfield to conduct drug deals and both would travel from Liverpool to Cheshire couriering commodity on behalf of the ‘Mitch’ county lines team.
Hamand would allow the gang to operate from her property in the town. Officers raided this address in October 2019, discovering 91 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine along with three knives believed to be for protection and more than £330 in cash.
Officers stopped a taxi in Wilmslow with Conteh inside, he was arrested and passed two packages containing 249 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine worth an estimated £2,490 which he had concealed inside him. While in custody Ahmed repeatedly attempted to get in contact with Conteh.
On 9 July 2020 Cheshire Constabulary arrested Ahmed at his Liverpool home where officers discovered £19,470 in cash in his wardrobe along with a Norwegian passport and Dior training shoes worth around £850.
In sentencing the four defendants, Justice Michael Leeming said: “Conteh and Ahmed worked as a team and recruited and exploited others to assist.
“This was undertaken with complete disregard for the impact on society and the way in which drugs wreck people lives and lead to increased crime as users commit crimes to fund their addiction – the misery that creates has been caused or at the very least contributed to by each of one of you.”
Justice Leeming added: “… youths were used to reduce the risk to you Conteh and they were exploited by you because of their age…”
They were all sentenced to the following:
•Jamal Conteh – 12 years (subject to a serious crime prevention order)
•Zakaira Ahmed – 7 years 6 months
•Oluwafemi Odumuyiwa – 44 months
•Cheryl Hamand – 31 months
Two more defendants Ammin Hassan and Edson Pereira will be sentenced in the new year.
Detective Inspector Adam Alexander said: “I welcome the sentences passed down by the courts today. This gang brought misery to the people of Macclesfield while relying on vulnerable youths to help deal drugs for them on their behalf.
“I’d like to say thank you to the officers who helped apprehend and bring this gang to justice over the 12 month operation.
“Illegal drugs have a devastating impact on local communities so by cutting off the supply and removing dealers from our streets, we are working to break the cycle of serious and organised crime and make Macclesfield a safer place.
“I hope that this sentence acts as a deterrent to anyone who feels that they can travel into Cheshire for their own selfish criminal gain.”
Detective Constable Luke Browczuk, of Macclesfield County Lines BIT Team, said: “This was a particularly complex case and I’d like to echo DI Alexander’s comments on welcoming sentencing of the defendants.
“We were determined to bring these criminals to justice and prevent them bringing more heartache to the town. I hope the residents of Macclesfield feel safer in the knowledge that this gang is off the streets.
“This case proves that crime does not stop at the border and no matter where you are from, if you are coming to Macclesfield to deal drugs, we will identify you and hold you responsible for your actions.”
Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane said: “Organised crime gangs bring misery not only to the victims but to communities around them.
“I want to take this time to praise the work of the officers and investigation team for bringing this complex case to the courts.
“I would urge anyone who has any concerns about illegal drug activity in their neighbourhoods to get in touch with Cheshire Constabulary.”