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County Lines drug dealer jailed after running operation for two years

A County Line drugs bust has seen a 21-year-old man jailed for more than four years.

Matthew Johnson was running a County Lines drug operation from Greater Manchester into the High Peak area over the last two years.

Johnson, who went by the drug dealing name Manc Dave, had brought a phone line, which had an established client base in the area, from another criminal and had begun moving both heroin and crack cocaine into the town.

Following information passed to police, officers from Buxton's CID team stopped a silver Ford Focus on the A6 in Chapel-en-le-Frith on 20 May, 2021.

When the detectives opened the door of the car, they found Johnson lying down with his hands down the back of his trousers trying to hide several wraps of crack cocaine.

Following a search of Johnson seven wraps of crack cocaine were recovered, along with £128 in cash.

Three mobile phones were also found in the car, one of which was found to be the 'line phone' which was constantly ringing after officers seized it. Following a forensic examination of the phone numerous marketing messages were found advertising both heroin and crack cocaine for sale and their supposed high quality.

Johnson, of Shelley Grove in Droylsden, gave a no comment interview and was charged with possession with intent to supply crack cocaine.

But this was not the first time that Johnson had been caught by officers with drugs in the High Peak area.

Back in 2019, after receiving information about a man drug dealing in Whaley Bridge, officers arrested Johnson on 8 March after he tried to run away from three cops along a canal path near Goyt Place.

He was found with around £200 in cash, 24 wraps of heroin and a small amount of cocaine. He was charged with another count of possession with intent to supply class A drugs.

Johnson was once again targeted by officers on 13 May 2020 – and was found with cocaine and heroin, split into dealer wraps, while driving in New Mills.

His Honda Civic was found to be displaying false number plates and another set of false plates were found in the boot.

He was once again charged with possession with intent to supply class A drugs.

Johnson appeared at Derby Crown Court on 11 June, where he was sentenced to four years and four months in prison.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Morrisey said: “With Manchester a short hop over the border criminals see towns like Buxton as an easy target. But my message to them is simple – they aren’t.

“Our team, along with our roads policing, local neighbourhood and organised crimes units, work together to proactively detect, disrupt and bring to justice those who peddle drugs in our community.

“If you plan on running drugs into our county then be prepared to end up in a pair of handcuffs.”

Many County Lines operate from so houses of drug users which are taken over, using intimidation and sometimes violence – known as cuckooing.

Sergeant Adam Harrison, from the Buxton Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “The first line of defence in tackling these gangs is our local community.

“If you have any information about drug dealing in the area then I would urge you to please contact the force, in confidence, at any time.

“I would also urge you to learn how to spot the signs of a house being cuckooed, and alert us to these as well. We see on a day to day basis the pain these drugs cause and with your help we can bring those who are profiting from this misery to justice.”

Police say some of the signs to spot are:

  • People entering the property
  • Cars or bikes outside the property
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Litter outside
  • People coming and going at strange times

There may also be:

  • Damage to the door, or the door being propped open
  • Unknown people pressing buttons to gain access to the building
  • You have not seen the resident recently, or when you have, they have been anxious or distracted
  • No engagement with family or services
  • The resident will not open the door of their property
  • Phone disconnected

Anyone with information about drug dealing in their area is asked to report it via the following methods:

  • Facebook – send a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
  • Twitter – direct message the contact centre on @DerPolContact
  • Website – complete the online contact form www.derbyshire.police.uk/Contact-Us.
  • Phone – call 101.

You can also anonymously contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111 or by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org. If there is a crime happening there and then, especially if someone may be in danger, then always call 999.

Watch footage of the moment Johnson was arrested in the video at the top of the page.

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