A COUNTY Lines drug operation in Northwich was rumbled after a Flintshire man was identified through facial recognition technology in the town.

Officers in the Northwich Proactive Policing Unit launched an investigation in April this year after becoming aware of a mobile phone number being used to sell drugs in the area by the 'Kyle' County Lines gang. 

Working on the case, the police recovered CCTV footage of an unknown man suspected to be one of those using the phone.

After the image was fed into the force's facial recognition system, a match was found with Keenan Hughes, of Connah's Quay.

Then on May 17, patrolling officers in Northwich found Hughes walking along Winnington Street with Vincent Potter, before both men were stopped and searched.

Hughes was found in possession of 99 individual wraps of crack cocaine, worth approximately £990, along with a hunting style knife. Potter was found to have two mobile phones, a lock knife and £960 cash.

Keenan HughesKeenan Hughes (Image: Cheshire Police)

Both men were subsequently arrested for drugs offences and possession of a knife in a public place.

Now, after previously pleading guilty to drug dealing and possessing knives in public, the pair were jailed for more than five years at Chester Crown Court on Monday, July 1.

Hughes, 18, of Cable Street, Connah’s Quay, was sentenced to 28 months behind bars for possession with intent to supply class A drugs (crack cocaine) and possession of a knife in a public place.

Potter, 19, of no fixed abode, was jailed for 34 months for possession with intent to supply class A drugs (crack cocaine), possession of criminal property, and possession of a knife in a public place.

Vincent PotterVincent Potter (Image: Cheshire Police)

The two men had remained tight-lipped during police questioning, but analysis of one of the phones seized from Potter revealed it was being used to sell illegal drugs.

Following the hearing, Police Constable Dean Butterworth, of Northwich Proactive Policing Team, said: “This is a great example of how technology can make a real difference in modern day policing.

“Hughes was not known in the Northwich area, but thanks to the CCTV footage and facial recognition technology, we were quickly able to identify him as a suspect.


“As a result of this information and the work of the team here at Northwich Proactive Policing Team, another two drug dealers have been removed from the streets of our town and both men are facing time behind bars.

“I welcome the sentences handed to the pair and I hope that their conviction provides reassurance to local residents and acts as a warning for any other dealers who are planning to target the Northwich area.”

Anyone with information or concerns in relation to drug dealing in the Northwich area is asked to report it to Cheshire Police via www.cheshire.police.uk/tell-us or call 101.