Officers dismantle two drug lines in Southend and Chelmsford
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Specialist officers dedicated to cracking drug supply networks across Essex have seen the last member of a county lines operation sentenced.
Robbie Sharp, 39, was the final offender to be sentenced after specialist officers with our Op Raptor team dismantled two lines running drugs from Wales to the streets of Southend and Chelmsford.
Various iterations of these lines used names of characters associated with the Super Mario video game series.
Our officers uncovered hundreds of bulk advertising messages sent out to customers between 2021 and 2022.
The ‘Mario/Luigi’ line saw drugs supplied on the streets of Southend, while the ‘Custom’ line saw drugs sold in Chelmsford.
Sharp was found to have played a significant role, higher up in the chain of both lines.
He was arrested after a warrant was executed at his address in Roman Road, London, and initially denied two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
He changed his pleas and admitted to his role on the third day of his trial. Appearing at Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday 20 December, he was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.
Four co-defendants have already been sentenced for their roles in either the ‘Mario/Luigi’ line or the ‘Custom’ line.
Our investigation found Kieran Downing, 38, of Maritime Quarter, Swansea, was the holder of the ‘Mario/Luigi’ line phone, after we tracked him travelling between his home in Wales and Southend.
Ashley Clark, 34, and Shannon Richards, 27, both of Kings Road, Chelmsford, were found to have been involved in the ‘Custom’ drug line.
A 17-year-old boy, from Southend, was also employed by Sharp to run drugs.
All four offenders admitted two counts of being concerned in the supply of a Class A drug, appearing for sentence at Basildon Crown Court in August 2023.
Downing and Clark were jailed for three years, while Richards received a 22-month suspended prison sentence, with unpaid work and rehabilitation activity requirements attached.
The teenage boy received a 15-month suspended prison sentence, with unpaid work and rehabilitation activity requirements attached.
'We rely on your reports'
DS Rob Maile, of our Op Raptor team, said:
“This was complex work which involved linking and tracing those involved with two drug lines bringing harmful substances into north and south Essex. “Our work tracking those connected to a range of different phone numbers proved to amount to irrefutable evidence, leaving those involved with these drug lines with no choice but to admit to their roles. “Drugs are not welcome in Essex. “We have specialist teams in place throughout the county to tackle this problem and the message to those who are intent on coming into Essex to sell drugs and take advantage of vulnerable people is very simple. We are watching you. “My teams have a number of sophisticated techniques to catch you. You will be oblivious to the fact we will be building a case with overwhelming evidence until we come for you, remand you and put you before the courts. “I would continue to encourage the public to give us information on drug dealing – number plates of cars, CCTV images, names or any information you have or see. You might not see immediate police activity, but we are constantly working in the background to build these secure criminal cases which is enabling the court to impose hefty sentences.”
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