From DEvon & Cornwall Police:
Another drugs line has been disrupted following a large scale police investigation into county lines.
Today, Friday 11 October, a drugs gang has been sentenced to a combined total of 36 years and 6 months for drug supply offences.
In a trial which lasted three and a half weeks, John Griffin aged 56 from Bodmin and Shanice Morrison aged 28 from Tottenham in London, were found guilty for their part in conspiring to supply Class A drugs.
The pair were part of a wider drugs network that saw thousands of pounds worth of drugs transported from London to Cornwall. They were among four other people who had previously pleaded guilty.
- Connell Bruce aged 31 from Haringey was sentenced to 11 years two months.
- Timon Davis-Blake aged 20 from London was sentenced to seven years and ten months.
- Shanice Morrison aged 28 from Tottenham in London, was sentenced to five years.
- John Griffin aged 56 from Bodmin was given a two year suspended sentence.
- Antoinette Bourne, aged 28 from Hackney was sentenced to four years and six months.
- Amari Orgill aged 22 from Haringey in London, was sentenced to six years.
- A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a Youth Rehabilitation Order.
The court heard how Griffin allowed his property to be used by conspirators before becoming proactively involved himself. In February 2018, officers carrying out a search warrant of Griffin’s home found cash, drug paraphernalia and Class A drugs with a street value of £1290.
In early 2018, one of the two victims was transported down to Cornwall by Connell Bruce who dropped him off at the Bodmin home of John Griffin. The victim was forced to live at the property and sell drugs.
Officers carrying out a search warrant of Griffin’s home located the victim and referred him to the National Crime Agency [NCA] as a possible victim of Modern Day Slavery. Searches at the property also revealed cash, drugs (heroin and crack cocaine) with a street value of £1290, drug paraphernalia and two small knives.
In the summer of 2018, the second of the two victims was transported to Cornwall from his home in London by Amari Orgill.
Orgill, who had originally befriended the boy, became increasingly threatening to him before he was bundled into a car and taken to the home of Irene Sampson in St Dennis, Cornwall. The boy’s case was also referred to the NCA who deemed the boy a victim of crime.
A third boy, who was aged 15 at the time and cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested alongside Michael Rowe at Mr Rowe’s home in Cornwall in September 2018. At first this boy was thought to be a victim, however, after repeatedly associating himself with crime, he was charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs of which he admitted. Michael Rowe was found not guilty of conspiracy charges.
DI Pete Found said: “The trial stemmed from an extensive police investigation into County Lines drug supply in Cornwall. This investigation was called Operation Ligament.
“On Wednesday 27 February 2019, officers from Devon and Cornwall police and the Metropolitan Police joined forces to execute warrants on numerous properties suspected to be involved in drug dealing and the exploitation of vulnerable people.
“Over 200 officers entered the properties simultaneously under Section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). The warrants were carried out at addresses in the London boroughs of Haringey, Lewisham and Hackney, as well as in Bodmin, St Austell and Newquay in Cornwall.
“The properties were identified through intelligence gathering processes as being part of a county line that fed from London to Cornwall. The warrants executed disrupted the whole line, known as ‘The Billy Line’.
DC Joel Brown said: “The case centred on an organised crime group utilising young and vulnerable people to service their drug network.
“The conspiracy was uncovered through a meticulous examination of phone and financial records which led to the downfall of a well-established London drugs network. This result should send a message that if found to be involved on any level of drugs supply you will be investigated.”
DI Pete Found continued: “This has been a comprehensive investigation into a well-established organised criminal network. The police operation has successfully dismantled the network who are no longer operating their criminal enterprise.
“This has undoubtedly made communities in both Cornwall and London safer and sends a clear message that Devon and Cornwall police will not hesitate to prioritise the safeguarding of vulnerable people and will put resources into investigating such cases.
“Specialist officers from Cornwall’s Proactive Disruption Team undertook the investigation which utilised hundreds of officers from Devon and Cornwall and the Metropolitan police during the arrest phase of the operation.
“I would like to like to thank everybody involved in bringing what was a very serious and complex case to a successful conclusion. Including witnesses, CPS and the prosecuting Barrister along with colleagues from the Metropolitan police.
“During the case, steps were taken to safeguard our victims, this meant officers from Devon and Cornwall Police visiting London to maintain the rapport built up throughout the case. This was supported by officers from the metropolitan police.
“The safeguarding of vulnerable young people involved in this case and also the wider community has been a primary focus throughout this investigation.”