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Heroin and crack cocaine dealt in Basingstoke
THREE drug dealers who supplied heroin and crack cocaine to addicts in the Basingstoke area have been jailed for more than 20 years between them.
Winchester Crown Court heard that Jack Whiting, from Winklebury, Basingstoke, acted as a “trusted runner” for Austin Mitchell and Frederick Asante, who were described as being “near the top” of a drug dealing operation which operated on a commercial scale.
Texts would be sent out to known drug users in Basingstoke, offering them heroin and crack cocaine, using codewords such as “light and dark” and Whiting, 20, would pass drugs to the users, before passing cash back to Mitchell and Asante.
Prosecuting, Sadie Rizzo said Asante, 27, had come to the attention of the police in April 2011 and was first stopped by officers on June 3 in Popley, where he was found to have three mobile phones and £500 in cash.
On August 26, 2011, he was spotted again in the Popley area, in a hire car with Mitchell, 26, where he was seen to dismantle a mobile phone and hide cash in a compartment in the car.
Police officers subsequently seized a total of nine mobile phones, one of which contained the SIM used for the majority of the drug deals, and a small amount of cash.
The mobiles also contained pictures of large wads of cash, presumed by police to be the result of drug deals.
The texts showed a link with Whiting, who they arrested the following month near to Basingstoke railway station and found him to be carrying £200 in cash.
All three men were subsequnetly arrested and their homes searched.
Three wraps of crack cocaine were found at the address of Whiting and amounts of cash and incriminating mobile telephones were found belonging to the trio.
Although only a small amount of drugs and money were ever seized, the prosecution estimated that over the course of one year, the network dealt around 1.82 kilos of crack cocaine and heroin.
The amount was calculated from text messages sent and received by the dealers, which implied they were making between £500 and £600 every couple of days, Miss Rizzo said.
Defending Asante, David Reid said: “He was not at the very top of the chain. There was one person above him.”
He added Asante’s five children would be affected by a lengthy jail term.
Defending Mitchell, a father-of-one, Michael Green said he was already serving a prison sentence of six years and three months for similar offences in Portsmouth.
He said: “The release date that has been given to him is May 2015, and he is very much working towards that date.”
Nicholas Rowland, defending Whiting, claimed that his client’s role had been much more minor than those of his co-defendants.
He said: “He is described as a ‘trusted runner’ but in fact the evidence is much more limited to a few text messages.”
He added that only a small amount of cash and drugs had been found on Whiting.
Mitchell, of Warnborough Drive, London, and Asante, of Delphi Way, in Waterlooville, Portsmouth, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs between May 1 2011, and July 2, 2012.
Whiting, of Corfe Walk, Basingstoke, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine between May 1, 2011, and February 2, 2012.
Judge Susan Evans sentenced Asante to seven years in jail, Mitchell to 10 years, which will run concurrently with the sentence he is currently serving, and Whiting to three years and seven months.
She told the defendants: “You all know the damage that drugs can do.”
PC James Oldfield, who worked on the investigation for more than two years, said he was delighted with the sentences.
He said: “It’s a top result. It really sends the message out that it’s just not worth it and that’s the message we want to get across.”
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