A drug dealer who ran three county lines drug networks has been jailed for six years.
Hassan Bolat was arrested at an address in Hemel Hempstead in September 2022 following an investigation by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s specialist county lines unit, Operation Mantis. Bolat operated the Ace line in Hemel, the Carlito line in Portsmouth and the Blue line in Peterborough between February 2022 until his arrest. During a search of the address more than £16,000 in crack cocaine and heroin, £8,500 cash and numerous mobile phone handsets were recovered.
Bolat, aged 29, appeared at Luton Crown Court on Wednesday 12 July, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to supply class A drugs (crack cocaine and heroin).
Detective Sergeant Chris Cowell, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Mantis team, said: “Bolat ran a major drug supply network stretching across several areas, including dealing crack cocaine and heroin within Hertfordshire. Successfully dismantling such a significant network will have a big impact on drug use and associated crime within our communities. This will also send a message to anyone involved in drug dealing that we will track them down and they will face long jail terms.
“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.”
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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.