A drug dealer who ran a county lines drug network in the Watford area has been jailed for more than seven years.
Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operational Support Group arrested two people after raiding an address in Watford town centre, following a long running investigation into the supply of drugs in the town. Officers seized crack cocaine worth more than £4,000 during the operation, along with mobile phones believed to be used in the supply of drugs.
The man and woman both appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday 8 March.
Justin Hawkes, aged 46, of no fixed address was sentenced to seven years for the supply of class A drugs (crack cocaine). Rebecca Prowse, aged 33, of Brindle Court, Watford, received a two year prison sentence suspended for two years, a rehabilitation activity order and a nine month drug referral order for the supply of class A drugs (crack cocaine).
PC Hunni Glanville, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operational Support Group, said: “Vulnerable people are often the ones who suffer the most being drawn into criminal activities, drugs and even sexual exploitation.
“Our operations are making a significant impact on the county lines network operating in Hertfordshire and we will continue to disrupt gang activity and stop the supply of drugs into our towns.”
You can report information about a crime online, or speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via our online web chat. You also call the non-emergency number 101. If a crime is in progress call 999.
If someone you know has a drug problem, they can get help by contacting Frank on 0800 77 66 00 or visiting www.talktofrank.com.
What is County Lines?
County Lines is the name given to describe drug dealing, which involves criminal networks from urban areas expanding their activities into smaller towns and rural areas.
It often involves the exploitation of children, as gangs use young people and those with mental health or addiction problems to transport drugs and money. These gangs establish a base in the location they are targeting, often taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion in a practice referred to as ‘cuckooing’.
Dealers typically use a single phone line to facilitate the supply of Class A drugs to customers. The phone line is highly valuable and is protected through violence and intimidation.
*What is Operation Mantis?
The Operation Mantis team was launched in 2018 and is made up of officers who specialise in targeting serious and organised crime. Since May 2019 the team has executed over 202 search warrants, made 211 arrests and seized over £175,000 in cash. This has led to numerous county lines gangs being dismantled and offenders sentenced to more than 206 years in prison in total.
What is Cuckooing?
Cuckooing is the term used when gangs establish a base in the location they are targeting, often taking over the homes of vulnerable adults by force or coercion.
How to spot the signs that cuckooing might be happening in your neighbourhood:
Lots of different people coming and going from an address during the day and at night.
Suspicious smells coming from the property.
Windows covered or curtains closed all of the time.
Cars pulling up to or near to the house for a short period of time.
An increase in anti-social behaviour around the property.