Five arrested in major police crack down on county line gangs in Cumbria

Five gang members have been arrested as part of a police drugs bust which has seen a major gang take down in Cumbria.

Cumbria police officers made the arrests during a huge operation to crack down on gangs in the district as officer amped up the number of patrols and arrest in the area.

Five men and women have been put behind bars with a total sentence of 30 years for various drug related crimes.

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West Cumbria officers smashed a county lines drugs gang that forged links between Merseyside and Workington- during a two-month crackdown, mainly in Workington.

The arrests made during Operation Earnest had such an impact that it resulted in most of the supply line of heroin and crack cocaine to this part of the county being disrupted, with knock-on positive effects on linked crimes.

Heroin and crack cocaine were transported from Liverpool to Workington, with a text message known as a ‘text bomb’ then sent out to let local drug users and dealers know the substances were available.

The main man wanted, Shaun Doyle, 27, was the key player in the conspiracy. He and another man were stopped in a hire car in Workington by officers.

But detectives from West Cumbria Crime Command led efforts to identify, tackle and dismantle this organised crime network through building intelligence and disrupting the dealers, before moving into the arrest phase of action.

Specialist drugs detectives were also backed up and joined in the operation by multiple other police departments, including the neighbourhood policing teams, external partner agencies such as housing providers, local authority staff and other police forces.

Doyle was found with crack cocaine worth £12,000 in his trousers.

Others played different roles in the wider conspiracy, with a mix of Merseyside-based offenders and members from west Cumbria.

Legal proceedings have been underway since that time, resulting in the sentences linked to the operation being handed out today at Carlisle Crown Court.

Officers who carried out the crackdown said the sentences should act as a deterrent, issuing the following warning to county lines gangs: “We will stop you.”

Operation Earnest was launched at the start of September 2019.

The aim was to stop county lines drugs gangs targeting this part of the county following intelligence suggesting it was a growing problem.

County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised networks involved in exporting drugs into other areas, using dedicated mobile phone lines.

Those jailed today – and the sentences they will now serve – were:

Shaun Doyle, 27, of Reedale Road, Liverpool. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – crack cocaine and heroin. He was jailed for ten years and one month.

Jacob Hughes-O’Brien, 27, of HMP Durham. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – crack cocaine and heroin. He was jailed for seven years.

Thomas Robert Jameson , 29, of Towers Road, Liverpool. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – crack cocaine and heroin. He was jailed for four years and ten months.

James Postlethwaite, 46, of Blackburn Street, Workington. He was found guilty following trial of conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – crack cocaine and heroin. He was jailed for three years and six months.

Karen Pullen, 37, of Queen Street, Maryport. She was found guilty following trial of conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – crack cocaine and heroin. She was jailed for three years and six months.

Two people also received suspended sentences. They were:

Paula Jackson, 38, of The Ginns, Whitehaven. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – crack cocaine. She received a suspended sentence of two years, suspended for two years.

Lee Kirkpatrick, 38, of Senhouse Street, Workington. He pleaded guilty to allowing his premises to be used to supply class A controlled drugs – crack cocaine and heroin. He received a suspended sentence of 24 weeks, suspended for 18 months.

Detective Chief Inspector Matt Scott was the senior investigating officer overseeing the operation.

He said: “Operation Earnest was a significant operation involving multiple police departments and external partner agencies and police forces.

“The aim was to identify, disrupt and dismantle this organised crime group, which was targeting west Cumbria.

“The world of criminal drugs supply always moves on and we are never complacent.

“But following this operation there was a big effect on the availability of heroin and crack cocaine, which had a knock-on positive effect on other linked crimes.”

Detective Inspector Duncan Brooker added: “We constantly monitor for emerging problems or trends in crime.

“And after receiving intelligence that this was becoming an emerging problem in Workington, we acted swiftly to gather information and act to stamp it out.

“County lines is exploitative drug supply and is devastating to local communities, with its effect going well beyond those who are directly involved in the local drugs scene.”

DCI Scott said: “The actions of this operation shows we will not and do not stand for county lines gangs operating in Cumbria.

“We will do all we can to stop county lines drugs criminals targeting our community as they aim to line their pockets at other people’s misery.”

Anyone with information can report online at https://orlo.uk/KtZXE or phone on 101.

Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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Lancs Live – Cumbria