A RAFT of drug dealers have been put behind bars after an undercover police operation in Flintshire.

Caernarfon Crown Court was the venue for sentence in respect of numerous defendants caught by Operation Blue Magnitude on Thursday.

The court heard from prosecuting barristers Sion Ap Mihangel and Nicola Williams that the test purchasing initiative - which ran from the later months of 2021 through to the first half of this year - saw an undercover officer, named "Jimmy," making contact with a county lines operation supplying class A substances into Flintshire, then receiving the drugs from street dealers.

The Leader: Charlotte Johnson. Image: North Wales PoliceCharlotte Johnson. Image: North Wales Police
Charlotte Holly Johnston, aged 37 and of Riverside Park in Garden City, had previously been convicted of supplying class A drugs.

On two occasions, Jimmy was directed to Garden City to collect drugs after making a request for them by phone.

Both times, Johnston was the contact who met him and exchanged crack cocaine and heroin for cash.

Howard Jones, defending Johnston, said her criminal record was "indicative or someone who in her younger years had issues with alcohol," and later in life with drugs.

He added pressure had been put on his client to get involved in dealing the drugs and that she'd acted under the direction of others.

Judge Timothy Petts jailed her for two years and two months.

The Leader: Liam Wignall. Image: North Wales PoliceLiam Wignall. Image: North Wales Police

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Next up was 30-year-old Liam Wignall, of Nequay Close in Brookvale, Runcorn.

He had been convicted of five counts of supplying class A substances, two of possessing class A, and one of possessing class B

Jimmy was sent to Deeside after making a call for heroin, and was directed to walk down a footpath where he found other people waiting.

Two other people then arrived, one of whom was the defendant - who proceeded to sell him heroin.

Jimmy placed several more calls in the following days, being sent to Connah's Quay to collect drugs from Wignall.

On December 21, he tried to run after catching the attention of patrolling officers at Deeside - and was found to have class A drugs, as well as a cannabis joint.

Paul Wood, defending, told the court his client had been using drugs since the age of 12 and was under pressure to clear a debt.

The dad-of-one was a forklift truck driver prior to the covid-19 pandemic, he added.

Judge Petts jailed him for three years and eight months.

The Leader: Chad Stagg. Image: North Wales PoliceChad Stagg. Image: North Wales Police

Chad James William Stagg, aged 26 and of Chester Road West in Queensferry, appeared for sentence next.

He had been convicted at a previous hearing of supplying class A drugs.

The court heard he acted as a "go between," having attended to collect drugs alongside Jimmy, but taking the 'orders' of the undercover officer and other 'customers', then going to collect the substances for the group.

He earned an extra amount of drugs as a reward for his labours.

Mr Andrew Jebb, defending Stagg, said his client had not been there to deal drugs.

He was not connected with the county line but was involved in the "pooling of resources" to reduce the number of people going in and out of the location to buy substances.

He was jailed for 22 months.

The Leader: Dean Ashfield. Image: North Wales PoliceDean Ashfield. Image: North Wales Police

Dean Guy Ashfield, 32, of Central Drive in Shotton, appeared for sentence in respect of seven matters.

On December 7, Jimmy made enquiries about where he could buy drugs and was given a number.

When called, the person on the other end directed him to a footpath alongside a primary school during school hours.

Ashfield arrived on a bike and produced the drugs for sale.

That transaction occurred numerous times between December and April, and when he was arrested he had cocaine and heroin in his possession.

Robin Boag, defending, said Ashfield was addicted to the substances he was dealing and had become involved in the criminality due to a debt.

He was jailed for three years and one month.

The Leader: James Hill. Image: North Wales PoliceJames Hill. Image: North Wales Police

James Hill, aged 22 and of Partington Avenue in Bootle, had previously been convicted of supplying Class A drugs and possessing cannabis.

Jimmy ended up meeting him more than once after placing a call with the county line and being directed to the rear of a waterworks.

When Hill's home was raided by police, drugs and money were recovered.

Oliver King, defending, said: "He asks me to submit that his remorse is genuine - in custody he is going to do everything he can.

"He is determined to make the most of his time."

Judge Petts jailed him for three years and three months.

The Leader: Harry Gray. Image: North Wales PoliceHarry Gray. Image: North Wales Police

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Harry Gray, of Kingswood Boulevard in Higher Bebington was up for sentence next.

The 19-year-old had been convicted of supplying class A substances, as well as a number of motoring offences committed on the Wirral.

The earlier offences saw him leading police on an early hours chase through Birkenhead - travelling at around 70 miles per hour in a 30 zone and driving straight through a red light.

While awaiting sentence for those crimes, he got involved in drug dealing - meeting and serving drugs to Jimmy in Conah's Quay.

Oliver King, defending, said his client started out by taking cannabis and then moved onto harder drugs.

He conceded the 19-year-old "had a choice" when it came to getting involved in drug dealing and he had accepted the sentence he was to receive would be immediate custody.

Judge Petts sentenced him to three years and nine months in a young offenders institute for the drugs offences, with an additional five months on top for the car chase.

The Leader: Nathan Higgins. Image: North Wales PoliceNathan Higgins. Image: North Wales Police

Nathan Higgins, aged 30 and of East Parade in Rhyl, had previously been convicted of numerous offences of supplying class A drugs, as well two for possession with intent to supply class A.

The defendant had supplied Jimmy with drugs on six occasions in Connah's Quay.

Cash and drugs were seized from his home when police raided it in February this year.

Gary Harvey, defending, said his client "dabbled" in drugs but his usage significantly increased due to stress, causing him to accrue more debts than he could pay off in his building and roofing job.

He was then approached by people from the Merseyside area and became involved in the sale of drugs.

Judge Petts jailed him for three years and eight months.

The Leader: Peter Bevan. Image: North Wales PolicePeter Bevan. Image: North Wales Police

Peter Ernest Bevan, aged 38 and of Pen Y Llan Street in Connahs Quay had previously been convicted of three offences of supplying class A drugs.

They arose when he supplied the substances to Jimmy on three occasions.

Gary Harvey, defending, said his client turned to selling the drugs as a way of feeding his own habit, but also because he was short of money and he'd just got himself a flat.

The offer seemed "too difficult to resist," he added.

Judge Petts jailed him for three years.

The Leader: Lee Edwards. Image: North Wales PoliceLee Edwards. Image: North Wales Police

Lee Gerrard Edwards, aged 27 and of Riverside Park in Garden City, was next up for sentence in relation to 12 offences of supplying class A, and six of possession of class A with intent to supply.

The court heard Jimmy met with and received drugs from the defendant on six occasions, largely around Garden City.

Richard Edwards, defending, said his client had "little involvement" with his family growing up and had "no schooling to speak of."

Those facts combined with his abuse of alcohol and drugs had led him into offending from a young age, he said.

At the time of the offence, he had amassed a "significant" debt to his dealers and her "one way only" to pay it off.

Judge Petts jailed him for four years.

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