Six drug dealers who ran a county lines drug network in Hemel Hempstead have been jailed for a combined total of more than 30 years.
The gang ran the ‘Ghost’ line in the town, between January 2021 and June 2023, bringing in heroin and crack cocaine from Luton.
During the police operation several ‘cuckooed’ addresses of vulnerable individuals in Hemel Hempstead were identified and two 15-year-olds who had been exploited by the gang were safeguarded.
The six men appeared at Luton Crown Court on Friday 26 January and Friday 2 February 2024.
Amir Hussain, 25, of Alexandra Avenue, Luton, was sentenced to 12 years for conspiracy supply Class A drugs
Nasser Shabbir, 26, from Luton, was sentenced 6 years and nine months for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs,
Bialal Ahmed, 22, of Beresford Road, Luton, was sentenced to 4 years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs
Abid Khan, 21, of Letchworth Road, Luton, was sentenced to 2 years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs
Oman Sajid, 21, of Priestleys, Luton, was sentenced to two years and six months for being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs
Graham Watkins, 55, of Trent Road, Luton, was sentenced to two years suspended for two years for being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs
Detective Constable David Purvis, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Mantis team, said: “This gang ran the ‘Ghost’ line, which supplied drugs out of Luton into the Hemel Hempstead area. The disruption of this line will make a significant impact on drug use and associated crime in the region. It also sends a clear message that drug dealing will not go unpunished and anyone involved will be caught and jailed.
“Exploitation of vulnerable young 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.
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.