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UK News Drug gang boss flooded the Valleys with heroin and crack cocaine

15:51  12 december  2019
15:51  12 december  2019 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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a man wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: Yousef Woolcock, leader of a Barry drug gang, was jailed at Cardiff Crown Court on December 11 © South Wales Police Yousef Woolcock, leader of a Barry drug gang, was jailed at Cardiff Crown Court on December 11

The boss of a drug gang that flooded the South Wales Valleys with “wholesale quantities” of heroin and crack cocaine has been jailed for more than 17 years.

Yousef Woolcock, of White Farm, Barry , headed a sophisticated drug gang which supplied mass amounts of class A drugs to street dealers and users in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil on an "almost daily basis", a court was told.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that between August 2018 and July this year, the 36-year-old distributed at least 18kg of heroin and crack cocaine and that he used a mobile phone known as the “Barry line” to contact dealers and customers.

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Woolcock even carried on his illegal enterprise while in Cardiff prison in November 2018, the court was told.

During a body search, officers discovered three packages of heroin worth between £2,580 and £5,160 hidden in his anus. It's thought the heroin would have been distributed to dealers and drug users in the prison.

On December 11 Woolcock, a father-of-three, was convicted of two counts conspiring to supply Class A drugs and possessing heroin with the intent to supply at Cardiff Crown Court .

Kevin Skinner, also of Barry, was also jailed for his role as a drug runner for the gang.

The court heard that Woolcock took over the "Barry line" in August 2018 when its former leaders were caught by police as part of Operation Blue Pearl.

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Woolcock used a mobile phone to contact the drug runners with instructions and details of drop-offs as well as drug users who bought directly from Woolcock.

The phone number for the phone was changed multiple times during the 11 months Woolcock ran the gang in a bid to keep the network hidden from the police.

Prosecutor Gareth Jones said that between August 9 and January 3, the mobile phone contained 57,850 phone numbers and had made 21,000 calls - of which 18,271 were 30 seconds or less. It had also been used to send thousands of text messages to drug runners with instructions and plans for drugs to be dropped off.

Mr Jones said officers from South Wales Police were monitoring the mobile phone as part of Operation Blue Pearl and traced it to a shop in Barry.

CCTV footage from the shop showed Woolcock topping up the phone - which he went on to do dozens of times - and they tracked the phone being driven in Woolcock's Audi A3 to and from the South Wales Valleys.

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The court heard that Skinner, who was employed by Woolcock from April 2018 to July 2019, played a "key role" in the distribution of the drugs. Mr Jones said he was a "trusted friend" of Woolcock and had previously used the line to buy heroin for himself.

The prosecution said that while Skinner, a father-of-one, wasn't involved in the distribution of the 18kg police believe the gang sold over the 11 months, he was "financially motived" having run up drug debts.

Woolcock and Skinner were both arrested on July 2 as part of Operation Blue Pearl. When officers raided Woolcock's house, they found nearly half a kilo of heroin and crack cocaine and £6,830 in cash in a cupboard. They also discovered a hard copy of contact numbers for drug dealers and the mobile phone.

Christopher Reece, defending Woolcock, told the court that he was a father-of-three who had battled heroin addiction since the age of 21.

He said Woolcock was "remorseful" and highlighted that the defendant didn't live a "lavish lifestyle".

Adam Sharp, defending Skinner, told the court he was a carer for his partner of 15 years who suffers from fibromyalgia and has a six-year-old son.

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He said Skinner was a heroin addict who had managed his addiction with methadone but relapsed when the prescription was stopped.

Judge Bidder QC described the business as a “despicable trade”.

For the two counts of conspiring to supply class A drugs, Woolcock was given a 20-year prison sentence, reduced to 15 years for his guilty plea, and two years and six months for possessing heroin while in prison.

He was jailed for 17 years and six months, of which he must serve half.

Skinner was sentenced to five years and three months for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

Judge Bidder praised South Wales Police and the officers involved in the operation, which was carried out over 12 months, saying: “It was a very sophisticated and complex investigation."

Operation Blue Pearl was launched after police received information that on a daily basis, drugs were being carried from Barry, through Bridgend and into the South Wales Valleys via Gilfach Goch. Some £64,000 worth of class A drugs, over £12,000 in cash, and weapons including knives, tasers, and hammers were seized by officers.

As part of the operation, Saed Saeed and Fouad Cilmi were caught supplying heroin and cocaine in the Valleys as part of a County Lines operation.

Detective Sergeant Tim Jones, said: “We can be sure of the untold damage that his dealings have caused member of the community, their families and loved ones.

“In dismantling this operation we have taken many thousands of pounds worth of drugs off the streets, but other drug dealers will be lying in wait and ready to move into supply the market."

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