Three county lines drug dealers sentenced

Three county lines drug dealers who sold heroin and crack cocaine in Chester have been jailed.

Peter Hayes, 32, of Bootle, and Fulton Tasker, 25, of Liverpool, had previously been convicted and sentenced.

Hayes was sentenced to nine years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply of crack cocaine and heroin.

Tasker was sentenced to three years and eight months after pleading guilty to possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

The final defendant, Josh Irving, 23, of Chester appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday 1 September, where he received two years behind bars.

The charges relate to an investigation into the Tomo county lines team which facilitated the supply of class A drugs between Merseyside and Chester.

Hayes was identified as a key player within the Organised Crime Group (OCG) and controlled the county line operating in Chester between June 2022 and February 2023.

He would regularly travel from Liverpool into Chester to oversee the drug supply, ensuring those below him within the network were following his orders.

Tasker was a trusted associate of Hayes and worked under his instruction to traffic large amounts of crack cocaine and heroin into Chester.

Irving was a regular street dealer for the Tomo line and would wait for the orders from Tasker and Hayes before distributing the illegal drugs to local users.

Irving and Tasker were arrested in October and December 2022 after plain clothes officers spotted them dealing drugs in Chester. A quantity of heroin and crack cocaine was recovered from both men upon arrest.

CCTV and telecommunication enquiries linked Hayes to a graft phone which was found to be sending hundreds of text messages to local users advertising the sale of class A drugs in Chester.

Hayes was arrested on Thursday 23 March after police became aware of a vehicle travelling into Chester that had previously been linked to drug supply within the city. The car was stopped using pre-emptive tactics and Hayes was found in the front passenger seat along with a small quantity of crack cocaine.

His phone, which was seized during his arrest, was found to contain further evidence of his involvement in the supply of class A drugs into the Chester area.

He was subsequently charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs (crack cocaine and heroin).

Tasker and Irving were charged with possession with intent to supply class A drugs (crack cocaine and heroin).

Detective Sergeant Stuart Needham said, “The sentencing of Hayes, Tasker and Irving concludes what has been an extremely complex investigation and I welcome the sentences that have been handed to them.

“Hayes was a key player in what was a large-scale commercial drugs business, supplying substantial amounts of crack cocaine and heroin in the Chester area.

“He believed that he could operate under the radar by ordering Tasker and Irving to carry out illegal drug deals for him.

“This shows that no matter what you think you are doing to cover your tracks, we are one step ahead. We will do everything we can to make sure that each member of these OCGs pay for the misery that they bring to communities across Cheshire.

“We will continue with our work in making our town a hostile environment for people like Hayes, but I would urge that the public help us too – any information we receive is vital in our fight against drugs.”

Image: (L-R) Josh Irving, Peter Hayes, and Fulton Tasker

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