A drug dealer who was part of a county lines drug network in North Herts has been jailed for three years.
Following an investigation by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Local Crime Unit (LCU) the offender was arrested and a substantial amount of class A drugs (cocaine) and cash seized from an address in Hitchin.
The man appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday 3 January 2023 where he plead guilty.
Reggie Barton, aged 18, of Kingswood Avenue, Hitchin, was sentenced to three years for possession with intent to supply class A and possession of criminal property.
Detective Constable Jamie Nye, from the North Herts LCU, said: “The offender was involved in a drug line which supplied drugs into the North Herts area, distributing significant amounts of drugs. This will have a significant impact on drugs use and associated crime in the county. It also sends a clear message that drug dealing will not go unpunished and anyone involved will be caught and jailed.
“Exploitation of vulnerable people is just one of the tragic symptoms of organised drug gangs. County lines dealers can coerce people into providing a base for dealers to operate or to act as distributers themselves. They often use young people to handle drugs and money, drawing them deeper into gang affiliation that often leads to violence and abuse.”
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.
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 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.