Five drug dealers who operated a county line supplying heroin and crack cocaine into Thanet have been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.
Jonathan Norman, Christopher Charlton, James Martin, Zena Watts and Samantha McKeown were responsible for distributing Class A drugs to users in Ramsgate for almost a year, through a supply chain known as the ‘Scouse’ line.
Their criminal operation was dismantled following a Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate investigation, which proved that between June 2019 and May 2020 all five were linked to a dedicated phone line to advertise drugs to local users by sending out bulk marketing text messages.
They were arrested following a series of simultaneous search warrants at properties in Ramsgate on July 22. A number of phones were seized containing data linked to the line, which included messages such as ‘on at 9 with best of both fast drops’ – indicating that from 9am fast delivery was available on high quality heroin and crack cocaine. Analysis of one of the phones also led to the discovery of conversations between Watts and Norman, making calculations around drugs supply and users.
The suspects were charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court.
On Thursday 10 December.:
Norman, aged 45, of Clements Road, Ramsgate; Charlton, aged 29, of Quetta Road, Ramsgate and Martin, aged 53, of Royal Road, Ramsgate were each sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
Watts, aged 37, of Clements Road, Ramsgate, was sentenced the following day to five years and six months.
McKeown, aged 41 of Quetta Road, Ramsgate received a custodial sentence of three years and six months.
Detective Sergeant Jason Booth of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “I’m pleased that we have been able to successfully dismantle what was a significant drugs supply chain into Thanet, facilitated by mass marketing through the means of mobile phones and text messages. The end purpose of this chain was to sell heroin and crack cocaine to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, drugs which cause significant harm as well as the associated criminality which can blight our local communities.
“We are committed to targeting those we believe are responsible for the misery and destruction of lives connected to these harmful substances, but we also continue to need your help, so remember to report any suspicious behaviour. By continuing to work together we are getting the message through to criminals that ultimately we will ensure their actions result in prison sentences.”