A drug dealer from Liverpool who orchestrated a county line supplying heroin and crack cocaine into Thanet has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Josh Harkins controlled a supply chain known as the ‘Scouse’ line, which distributed Class A drugs to users in Ramsgate for almost a year.
The criminal operation was dismantled following a Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate investigation, which proved that between June 2019 and May 2020 Harkins used dedicated phone lines to advertise drugs to local users, by sending out bulk marketing text messages.
Harkins was based in Liverpool; however his network was enabled by accomplices and runners in Kent. Five of these associates were arrested following a series of simultaneous search warrants at properties in Ramsgate, in July 2020.
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.
These five were all sentenced in December 2020, to a total of more than 20 years’ imprisonment, having pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Harkins, 31, of Morningside Road, Liverpool, went on the run, fleeing to Spain, but eventually returned to England and handed himself in at Margate police station on 10 January 2022.
Harkins was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, having pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court. He was sentenced on Thursday 26 May.
Detective Inspector Emma Lawry said: “Harkins controlled a significant drugs supply chain into Thanet, with the sole purpose of selling heroin and crack cocaine to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“Whilst he used others to carry out the business of arranging deals and delivering the drugs to users, his actions from afar are directly responsible for the misery and destruction of lives connected to these harmful substances. The sentence justly reflects the severity of his crimes and sends a clear message to those involved in serious and organised crime.”