A man from Liverpool who goes by the nickname ‘red’ overlooked a network that saw drugs peddled between Cheshire and Liverpool called operation ‘Scouse JJ’.
Joseph Drury travelled from Merseyside to supply and monitor addicts selling crack cocaine and heroin on the streets of Cheshire.
After police raided his Croxteth home, they uncovered evidence linking him to similar activity in Blackpool.
A drugs hotline that exchanged more than 300 calls and texts with addicts every day was also discovered, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Drury emerged on the radar of police after undercover officers broke up a gathering of street dealers in Macclesfield in October.
Melissa Kennerley and Nathan Malkin were arrested, both swallowing a wrap of drugs in the process.
Kennerley told officers there were drugs at the couple’s nearby Half Street home and a search led to the recovery of 13 £10 deals of heroin and 18 £10 deals of crack cocaine.
In interview, Malkin said the couple were drug users who had been offered the chance to work by their dealer.
Both said they were resupplied three to four times a day, making between £50 and £100 between them.
Liverpool Crown Court heard they dealt around £600 of drugs each day they worked.
Their mobile phones were analysed.
Simon Duncan, prosecuting, said: “The evidence clearly showed that Mr Malkin and Ms Kennerley were dealing on behalf of Mr Drury and accountable to him for drug sales.”
Texts advertising drugs on behalf of Scouse JJ were found on the phones, as well as messages from Drury discussing the flow of drugs and cash.
They included requests for the dealers’ takings and instructions to send out adverts via text, such as: “Lad, you need to catch the morning people.”
Drury was himself arrested in Macclesfield the following month when police responded to concerns a child had been left home alone by their mum, who was suspected of being involved in drugs at the time.
As an officer waited outside, he saw Drury emerge from an alleyway behind a nearby row of properties and stopped him.
He was questioned on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, but claimed he was in the town visiting a friend.
While that investigation was ongoing, Drury’s home on Griffin Close was raided by Merseyside Police in April as part of a separate probe.
Officers searched the property and found heroin and crack cocaine with a combined street value of up to £11,000, plus £2,300 in cash and scales and snap bags.
A phone seized from the 28-year-old was found to be a Scouse JJ graft phone that had made hundreds of calls every day – a total of 14,614 texts or calls between February and April of this year as transactions were arranged and dealers instructed.
It also linked Drury to drug dealing in Blackpool.
While it was accepted Drury was not a leading figure in Scouse JJ, Mr Duncan said he had operational and management roles within the network and recruited others to work for it.
He accepted Malkin and Kennerley, who were prosecuted for dealing across several days of October 2020, were ‘way down the pecking order from Mr Drury’, but added: “They clearly understood the scale of the operation by reference to the sheer amount of drugs they were dealing on a daily basis.”
Drury admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin and crack cocaine; and two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Malkin and Kennerley pleaded guilty to two counts of of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Trevor Parry Jones, defending Drury, said his client became involved with the Scouse JJ operation after falling into debt over drugs.
He said: “He owed in excess of £4,000. They were more than content for him to increase the debt. The debts amassed and then, of course, you have to start paying them off.”
John Staunton, defending Kennerley, said the 26-year-old had turned to drugs after suffering personal tragedy and that her “frankness was clear” during her police interview.
Mr Staunton added that police officers commented they had ‘never dealt with two nicer individuals’ than Malkin and his client, who he said had managed to break her reliance on street heroin.
Philip Tully, defending Malkin, said the 23-year-old had “genuine remorse” for his actions and was desperate to overcome his own drug addiction.
Sentencing all three, Judge Andrew Menary, QC, said: “Each of you has in the past had an addiction to Class A drugs and I accept it was, or may have been, this addiction that led each of you to deal drugs on the occasions I am concerned with.”
While he accepted there would have been others above Drury in the Scouse JJ hierarchy, he said the dad had been involved in the sale of drugs and control of street dealers for significant periods of time.
Referring to the details of a reference and a pre-sentence report on Drury he did, however, add he appeared to be someone ‘who has real potential to make a constructive use of your life’.
He sentenced Drury to four and a half years in jail.
The judge said Malkin and Kennerley had an awareness of the scale of the operation, but accepted their involvement was ‘limited’ in time and its nature.
Warning the pair they had come ‘perilously close’ to being locked up, he handed each a two year sentence, suspended for two years.