County Lines: Three Sentenced For Over 8 Years For Drug Supply

Three people have been sentenced for county lines drug dealing offences following an operation and investigation by Cumbria Police’s North Area Drugs Squad.

Left to right: Luke Waeling, Alexander Nyarashe and Laura McGannan.
  • Luke Waeling, 34, formally of Hastings, Sussex, admitted charges of conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin and was sentenced to two years seven months
  • Alexander Nyarashe, 22, of Jubilee Drive, Liverpool, admitted charges of supply crack cocaine and heroin and was sentenced to three years six months
  • Laura McGannan, 33, of Dalton Avenue, Carlisle, admitted charges of supply crack cocaine and heroin and was sentenced to two years four months

The investigation began when Cumbria Police received information that a new ‘County Line’ drugs line had gone live in Carlisle in May 2020.

The number, ending 666, had been sending out bulk advertising text messages offering to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

The drug dealers were identifying themselves and the drugs they sold with the trade name of ‘Red’.

Cumbria Police’s North Area Drugs Squad commenced Operation Denier to identify and dismantle this new attempt to flood Carlisle with Class A drugs.

Telecommunications data for the 666 number showed that between May 4 and 18, the phone was exceptionally active all over Carlisle.

The number was contacting a large number of local persons known to the Police for heroin and crack cocaine usage.

It was also continuing to send bulk messages, indicative of commercial drug supply.

The phone had arrived on the evening of May 2 in Carlisle and CCTV footage from the train station showed two males arriving at the same time the phone arrived. It was believed that these persons were the holders of the ‘Red Line’ phone.

On May 19, Police attended Millholme Avenue, Carlisle. Waeling was seen exiting the address and meeting a local known drug user – police detained both men.

Waeling is from London but latterly from Hastings in Sussex and had no known links to Carlisle. Both men were searched and while no drugs were recovered, the local drug user’s phone was seized from him.  Analysis of this shows he had placed a call to the 666 number just prior to being detained by Police. 

Waeling was found in possession of a Smith & Weston folding pocket knife larger than legally permitted and was arrested for possession of this and for being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.

Entry was gained to the address he had exited and inside in the bathroom was a man from Liverpool who initially lied about his identity to Police but was later identified as Alexander Nyarashe. 

Nyarashe was in the process of flushing wraps of drugs down the toilet to try to destroy them.

From the address was recovered around £700 in cash, 22.5 grams of heroin in one lump, 18.4 grams of crack in one lump, 106 individual wraps of crack, 23 individual wraps of heroin.

These have a total street value of £4,215

Nyarashe had a mobile phone in his pocket that had been receiving messages from the 666 number, sending him instructions on drug deals to be conducted.

Also found at the address at the top of the stairs leading into the flat was a loaded crossbow, available to hand and ready to be fired at anyone entering the property.

While Nyarashe and Waeling were in custody, further analysis of the billing data was showed that the 666 number was still in operation and was not among the phones seized from them.

Analysis showed that the 666 number had been in frequent contact with the number of local woman, Laura McGannon in 2018.

On the May 20 Police went to her house and arrested McGannon Dalton Avenue, Carlisle. In the house was the second male known to have arrived with Nyarashe on the May 2.

He was a vulnerable 17 year old missing from home.

In the bedroom the 666 county line phone was recovered, along with cash and powders used to bulk up heroin to make more profit. 

The phone of McGannon was seized and the content was found to illustrate her role in the conspiracy.  She had been assisting in the physical distribution of crack cocaine and heroin all across Carlisle.   

A feature of the case was the discovery of ‘drill’ music lyrics on the phone of Nyarashe. Cumbria Police worked with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police Service’s specialist gang unit to provide expert evidential translations of the lyrics.

Written and performed by Nyarashe in a number of self-shot videos, Nyarashe boasted of carrying machetes, shotguns and handguns while conducting his ‘business’ as a county lines crack and heroin dealer.

All three defendant’s admitted their role in the conspiracy. 

Welcoming the sentences handed down by the court today, Detective Constable Tim Prangnell of the County’s North Area Drug Squad said:  “Organised gangs based elsewhere in the country continue to try to import drugs into Cumbria and attempt to exploit vulnerable local people. 

“However, through our work with other agencies and most importantly the support of our communities in reporting suspicious activity, we remain successful in identifying and convicting those responsible.  

“Cumbria is not a soft touch. Those intent on exploiting our communities should think twice about coming here to ply their destructive trade.”