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Seven members of county lines drugs gang handed jail terms

From left to right - Emanuel Buyondo, Lewis Cunningham, Malique Orrell, Natasia Gayle and Tina Austin-Saunders
From left to right - Emanuel Buyondo, Lewis Cunningham, Malique Orrell, Natasia Gayle and Tina Austin-Saunders

Seven members of a county lines drug gang which transported Class A drugs from the West Midlands and sold them on the streets of Somerset have been sentenced.

The gang was dismantled earlier this year after members of the public reported concerns drugs were being openly sold in Bridgwater.

Acting on this intelligence, officers identified a number of locations in the town where transactions were being made and proactively stopped several people seen acting suspiciously.

Evidence obtained during these stops led to the identification of two phone lines which were being used to coordinate sales of heroin and crack cocaine.

A total of nine warrants were subsequently conducted at addresses in Bridgwater, Wolverhampton and London leading to the arrests of four men and three women.

Significant sums of Class A drugs and cash were recovered following searches of the properties along with a number of weapons, ammunition for a gun and a stab vest.

Appearing at Taunton Crown Court, the following people were all recently sentenced for two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs (crack cocaine and heroin).

  • Natasia Gayle, 26, of Woden Road, Wolverhampton – jailed for three years and six months
  • Malique Orrell, 27, of Hamstead Road, Birmingham – jailed for three years and one month
  • Emmanuel Buyondo, 26, of no fixed address – jailed for three years and four months
  • Tina Austin-Saunders, 43, of no fixed address – jailed for two years and nine months
  • Lewis Cunningham, 20, of Hillfields Avenue, Bristol – jailed for two years and two months
  • Clare Finka, 48, of Bridgwater – given a two-year suspended prison sentence and told to attend a drug rehabilitation course
  • Phoenix Fox, 33, of Bridgwater – given a two-year suspended prison sentence and told to attend a drug rehabilitation course
Clare Finka and Phoenix Fox
Clare Finka and Phoenix Fox

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Atkin said: “County lines gangs continue to be a significant national problem.

“Those behind them don’t care about the harm they cause to communities or to the vulnerable people they often exploit, only for the money their unscrupulous actions can make.

“The arrests and successful prosecution of these seven people is the result of a lot of hard work and dedication by a number of officers. They worked tirelessly in partnership with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police and West Midlands Police and were key to disrupting the supply of illegal drugs in Bridgwater.

“These sentences send a clear message to those individuals involved in transporting harmful drugs into our towns and villages that we will come after you, arrest you and stop you.”