A County Lines gang, which included a cabbie from Nottingham, have been jailed for more than 40 years after a member of the group filmed their drug dealing activities on his dashcam.
The Nottingham gang, led by Bright Norman, moved significant amounts of heroin and crack cocaine into Derby between 20 March 2020 and 22 July 2020 – known as the Marlow Line.
During that time 8,439 marketing texts were sent out advertising their illicit wares – which was estimated to be a kilo of crack cocaine and heroin. As with other County Lines drug operations, the gang used drug addicts’ houses as a base for vulnerable young people, who are often intimidated and bullied, to sell the drugs.
They cut and packaged the drugs at the Nottingham home of Cherice Fuller – before they would then be transported down the A52 into Derby to be sold at the homes of Sharon Taylor, Gemma Cooper and Mandy Hughes.
Norman, along with his right-hand men Andrew Evaristo and Mohammed Haely, would pass the drugs to runners Nana Vandevelde, Ricky Hollis-Smith and Grady Mabika-Blessing, who would then re-stock the sellers in Derby.
Cab driver Shahid Iqbal was introduced to the gang by Haely and became a key part of the gang’s activities - using his vehicle to transport drugs and vulnerable young people.
Iqbal was also to be instrumental in the gang’s downfall.
As the gang moved drugs into the Stockbrook area officers from a specialist team tackling county lines drug dealing in Derby were investigating those involved in the Marlow Line – and became aware that Iqbal’s cab was being used to run drugs into the city.
During a series of coordinated warrants and car stops Iqbal was arrested and his cab seized.
Inside was found a dashcam that recorded, in both pictures and sound, vast amounts of footage detailing the drug dealing activities of the gang.
It also showed Iqbal explaining to young teenage boys what they were expected to do in order to sell the drugs – as well as the how members were beaten for costing the gang money by not getting to the drug dealing house quickly enough.
All the gang members eventually pleaded guilty to their parts in the conspiracy and were jailed for more than 40 years in total at Derby Crown Court on 6 May.
The following were all jailed for conspiracy to supply class A drugs:
Bright Norman, 25, of Hazel Hill Crescent, Bestwood, Nottingham - Nine years, six months
Andrew Evaristo, 24, of Charlbury Road, Bilborough, Nottingham - Seven years, 10 months
Mohammed Haely, 22, of Draper Crescent, Wokingham - Six years, nine months
Cherice Fuller, 28, of Burgass Road, Thorneywood, Nottingham - Five years
Shahid Iqbal, 41, of Hollinwell Avenue, Wollaton, Nottingham - Four years
Nana Vandevelde, 18, of Penroyson Close, West Gorton, Manchester - 19 months
Grady Mabika-Blessing, 21, of Westleigh Road, Broxtowe, Nottingham - Three years
The three women involved in the gang were sentenced to the following jail terms after pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of class A drugs:
Mandy Hughes, 40, at St Davids Close, near Rykneld Park, Derby - Three years
Sharon Taylor, 35, of Harrison Street - 15 months
Gemma Cooper, 36, of Harrison Street - 15 months suspended for two years
Ricky Hollis-Smith, 19, of Elm Avenue, Nottingham will be sentenced at a later date.