Trio of drug dealers jailed after police uncover 'cuckooed' flat

Chelmsford Crown Court Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Three men have been jailed after Essex Police uncovered a county lines drugs operation in Clacton - Credit: Lucy taylor

A trio of drug dealers have been jailed in Clacton after police uncovered a "cuckooed" flat in a county lines investigation.

Officers from Essex Police's Operation Raptor North team carried out a warrant at a bedsit off Marine Parade East in the town on June 4 last year, where they seized heroin and crack cocaine with a street value of around £1,300.

The officers, investigating the "Yardies" drug line, found the dealers had taken over a woman's home to sell drugs against her will – an act known as "cuckooing".

Zak Gee, Jason Hood and Ben McGarity were among those found at the address during the raid and were arrested and charged with possession of heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply.

McGarity, of no fixed address, was also charged with possession of cannabis.

He and Hood admitted the charges in July last year, while Gee admitted the offences in February.

All three were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday, April 14.

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Gee, 27, formerly of Woolacombe Way in Hayes, was jailed for four years for the Clacton offences, as well as separate drugs offences in Reading.

Hood, 39, of Spenser Way and McGarity, 27, were both jailed for three years and nine months.

Investigating officer PC Mark Dundon called on the public to report any other examples of "cuckooing" to police.

PC Dundon said: “Gee, Hood and McGarity were part of a drugs line that took advantage of a vulnerable woman by taking over her home to set up a base from which to sell drugs.

“This is a common tactic used by drugs gangs, who use manipulation, intimidation and threats of violence to exploit vulnerable people and children.

“They use the same methods to control their own gang members and assert authority over rivals.

“Whichever way you look at it, it’s a cycle of fear and these three men knew what they were involved in and the consequences. 

“If you are concerned about drug dealing in your community or are worried someone you know is being used by drug dealers, please tell us so we can investigate.”