County lines drug dealer is jailed for eight years

Ronnie Downes, from Dagenham, was jailed for eight years at Ipswich Crown Court

Ronnie Downes was jailed for eight years - Credit: Suffolk police

A drug dealer who ran a crack cocaine and heroin supply line into Suffolk has been jailed for eight years. 

Ronnie Downes, 21, was arrested by officers from Suffolk police's Serious Crime Disruption Team (SCDT) together with the Metropolitan Police in London in August 2020. 

He was subsequently charged with being concerned in the supply of class A drugs between December 2019 and July 2020. 

Downes denied the offences but was found guilty by a jury following a trial at Ipswich Crown Court in January this year. 

The court heard Downes was involved in running the 'Jonesy' drug line, and analysis of two phones revealed thousands of marketing messages regarding crack cocaine and heroin. 

Downes was arrested as part of Operation Orochi, which was set up by Suffolk Constabulary with the Met Police to tackle county lines drug dealing that operate between London and Suffolk.

The operation focuses on analysing the data of mobile phones used to buy and sell crack cocaine and heroin by dealers and controllers.

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Officers from the team in Suffolk will share this intelligence with a dedicated team at the Met, who will then investigate to identify the line controller and their location.

Sam Parham, mitigating, said Downes, of Winterbourne Avenue, Dagenham, was a promising young footballer. 

"It's a tragedy that he's not going to be able to use those talents," Mr Parham said. 

Mr Parham added that Downes had been caring for his mother and was "deeply upset" that he was not currently able to do that. 

On Friday at Ipswich Crown Court, Recorder Anthony Dunne jailed Downes for eight years. He will serve half of that sentence in custody before being released on licence. 

Detectie Constable Dave Murphy, from the SCDT, said Downes was "determined to sell on the streets of Ipswich". 

"This was another great result to get the scourge of drugs off our streets," he said. 

"Ronnie Downes was an operator who has links to drug gangs and is an individual who was determined to sell on the streets of Ipswich bringing misery to residents and vulnerable people.

"This is the kind of activity we are targeting and we will continue to take robust action against those who deal drugs around the county. I am pleased with today’s sentence and it should be a warning to those dealing that we will not tolerate it.”

"We will continue to listen to concerns of residents and this demonstrates our ongoing commitment to tackle class A drug dealing in the county and also wider afield where drug gangs have links to London and other urban areas.”

Detective Chief Inspector Ben Clark, who oversees the Operation Orochi operation for Suffolk, said: "This is a fantastic result for the community and the Serious Crime Disruption Team.

"It’s powerful demonstration of how we tackle criminality to keep our communities safe and the public can take confidence from the proactive approach that the Suffolk force takes.”

Detective Inspector Nick, Harvey from the Met’s Operation Orochi team, added: "We have been working with Suffolk Constabulary for just over a year now and this joint-policing approach has helped put a number of people in jail for county lines offences and disrupted a number of drugs supply routes out from London.

"We will continue to support Suffolk Constabulary in our efforts to dismantle county lines routes – a crime type that so often leaves a trail of violence and misery.”