Two drug dealers who ran “county lines” in Brighton have been ordered to hand over just £230 between them despite making profits of at least £35,000.
One of the pair – Andre Phanor – was described as the “Mr Big” of a drug dealing operation known as the Scotty Line.
But although Hove Crown Court was told that Phanor, 30, had made a profit of almost £29,000 from drug dealing, nothing was “available for confiscation”.
His sidekick Christopher Saili, 23, a care assistant, made more than £6,000 but, the court was told, had just £230 available for confiscation.
Judge Paul Tain ordered him to hand over the £230 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Phanor, unemployed, of Laundress Lane, Hackney, London, and Saili, a care assistant, of Clissold Crescent, Hackney, “cuckooed” a vulnerable man in Brighton.
The court was told that they took over the home of drug addict Paul London, 39, in Queen’s Park Road.
Phanor was jailed for 10 years last year after being found guilty of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin and Saili was jailed for six years for his role in the drugs gang.
Sussex Police applied for proceeds of crime orders to confiscate profits made by both men from their drug dealing.
The case was heard at Hove Crown Court a fortnight ago and afterwards Sussex Police said: “Saili’s benefit from crime was agreed by the court as £6,383.65, with £230 available for confiscation.
“Phanor’s benefit from crime was agreed as £28,875.53, with nothing available for confiscation.
“Often, as in this case, the assets currently available are less than the amount originally acquired.
“However, we keep records of all confiscation orders where the full ‘benefit’ amount isn’t immediately available and have means of regularly checking to identify any additional assets which have been obtained since the original order was made.
“We can then apply to the court for an increase in the original order.
“We can also seek the help of the South East Regional Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team, part of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), who carry out further work to identify more assets.”
The court heard that the Community Investigation Team in Brighton had started Operation Chalkwell in September 2017 to identify and disrupt “county lines” operating in Brighton and Hove and to protect vulnerable people.
The “county lines” – a shorthand term for the dedicated phones commonly used by drug gangs – have increasingly been used in places like Brighton by dealers from cities like London, Liverpool and Manchester.
The gang behind the Scotty Line were busted by police in Brighton in the spring of 2018.
Detective Inspector Dee Wells said: “We identified the Scotty Line as supplying heroin and crack cocaine in the centre of Brighton and started to investigate it in December 2017.
“As a result of that investigation, we were able to arrest Phanor and Saili at their home addresses in London.”
Another member of the gang, Joshua Samuels, 34, unemployed, of Seven Sisters Road, Hackney, was responsible for “cuckooing” Paul London.
Samuels handed after police raided his home address – and was later jailed for seven years.
Detective Inspector Wells said: “During the operation, Community Investigation Team officers identified Samuels as a manager for the Scotty Line, basing himself in Brighton.
“He hired vehicles and cuckooed a local vulnerable person. Phanor, based in the Camden area of London, controlled the dealing phone and directed the street runners. Saili managed the flow of drugs between London and Brighton.”
When Judge Tain sentenced the three men in June last year, he said to Phanor: “You are in the rare position of getting caught, when the county lines model protects those at the top, with normally only the lower-level street runners being the ones detected.
“A mixture of excellent technological analysis and your own mistakes got you caught.”
Addressing all three of those convicted, the judge said: “These are very serious offences with disastrous consequences and now they have disastrous consequences for you.”
Judge Tain went on to congratulate the police officers who had brought the three men to justice and in particular singled out Detective Constable Jon Freeman for praise.
He said that the main organiser or Mr Big (Phanor) had been successfully identified and through the thorough investigative work and careful and painstaking analysis of the vast amount of data, successfully prosecuted.
The analytical work was outstanding, he said, and truly worthy of commendation.
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