Operation Ballet: Latest drug gang jailed in police offensive on County Lines
Police in the Midlands have secured an 11-and-a-half year jail term against the head of a County Lines gang that supplied heroin and crack cocaine from Birmingham into Hereford – despite never finding him in possession of any drugs.
Kamran Rashid ran the ‘P Line’ network – as it was known – and is today (5 Dec) starting the lengthy stretch behind bars after admitting conspiracy to supply Class A drugs from his home in Aston into the county town.
Drug runners Talat Mahmood and Lisa Fayers – who Rashid employed to deal on his behalf – were also handed prison sentences of four years 10 months and three years nine months, respectively, at Worcester Crown Court.
Another woman, Hayley Williams, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and a drug rehabilitation order for playing a lesser role in the supply chain.
Detectives from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit – alongside West Mercia Police – recovered evidence from Rashid’s drugs hotline that he’d supplied narcotics valued at around £150,000 between July 2017 and February this year.
And that evidence alone was enough to secure convictions against the quartet and bring down the latest in a series of County Lines being investigated in the region.
Detective Inspector Julie Woods is leading Operation Ballet which has netted 75 suspected drug dealers believed to be involved in a total of 10 County Lines operating out of the West Midlands and London.
She said: “This case should act as a warning to anyone who thinks they can run a drug supply line but avoid detection by keeping their distance from the drugs and not getting their hands dirty.
“We have a multitude of tactical assets at our disposal to gather evidence and together with forensic phone analysis we can put very compelling cases before the courts.
“Rashid and his associates all recognised that and pleaded guilty – and we’re confident that many more people involved in County Lines from the West Midlands will very shortly be following them into prison.”
Police enquiries revealed Rashid, from The Broadway, was frequently travelling between Birmingham and Hereford in various hire cars on suspected drug deliveries.
Officers intercepted the 30-year-old on 31 August in Grandstand Road, Hereford, and arrested. No drugs were found in the car but £1,500 in cash and a phone used to run the P Line – which was contacting around 50 customers a day – was seized.
He was bailed to give detectives time to gather further evidence – but it was later discovered that just eight hours after his release brazen Rashid sent a message out to P Line clients telling them “brand new phone, old number gone, pls don’t text it police have it”.
In a bid to distance himself from the supply chain he recruited Mahmood (40) and 41-year-old Fayers – a couple from Nelson Road, Aston – to carry out the cross-border drug runs on his behalf.
However, Rashid retained control of the main dealer phone and acted as a ‘switchboard’ directing Mahmood and Fayers to people who’d placed Class A orders.
They were stopped by police on 5 October in a vehicle on Belmont Road, Hereford, in possession of £1,300 in cash and a phone which analysis showed was in repeated contact with Rashid’s Aston-based supply hotline.
He turned to Williams, aged 46 from Grandstand Road in Hereford, in a desperate bid to fulfil P Line orders but she along with Rashid and Fayers were arrested on 5 June and charged with conspiring to supply heroin and crack cocaine.
Mahmood was arrested 13 days later just moments after walking from the prison gates of HMP Birmingham having completed a sentence for another matter.
Det Insp Woods, added: “It’s clear Rashid was making large sums of money from the P Line: when he was arrested we found a new pair of Guiseppe trainers in the boot together with a receipt showing he’d paid £520 in cash. And we found he’d paid £3,300 on hire cars to deliver the drugs.
“Our evidence also showed that he used threats to intimidate the others who were doing the drug running on his behalf. Rashid is a calculating, dangerous man who was happy to make money out of the suffering of others.”
Herefordshire Superintendent Sue Thomas, said: “It’s very pleasing to see that all the good investigative work from our officers in Hereford as well as in the West Midlands ROCU team has resulted in these convictions.
“We completed the final arrest phase recently for Op Ballet…more trials and hopefully convictions will be taking place in the coming months and I hope this serves as a warning to those who are considering getting involved in county lines drug activity that we are working with our neighbouring forces to clamp down on this in Hereford and the bigger cities like Birmingham.”