10 years for County Lines drugs dealer in Dudley

Mohammed Sheikh and Sapphire Edwards,

A man has been sent to prison for running an operation selling heroin and crack cocaine to drug users in Dudley.

Mohammed Sheikh of New Birmingham Road, Dudley was sentenced to ten years at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday 12 March following an investigation lasting almost a year and a half.

Sheik’s partner, Sapphire Edwards, of no fixed address, was given an 18-month suspended sentence and 120 hours of unpaid work for her involvement in his drug deals.

The pair’s sentencing took place during our week-long focus on high-intensity work tackling County Lines drug dealing.

County Lines is where mobile phone lines are used to arrange the supply of illegal drugs, which criminals often coerce others into carrying across county borders.

County Lines Intensification Week has seen some excellent work by teams across local policing areas, with arrests, warrants and engagement taking place.

Sheik, 28, was identified as being behind a County Lines drug operation known as the ‘Sandy’ line.

In December 2021, following enquiries into various drug lines and dealers in their local area, Dudley neighbourhood officers referred a phone line suspected to be the source of a major operation to the County Lines Task Force for further investigation.

Analysis of the line showed bulk messages being sent to a large amount of numbers – a common trait of County Lines operations – referencing ‘Sandy’ and clearly advertising drugs for sale. Mohammed Sheikh, who was living in Birmingham at the time, was believed to be behind the Sandy drugs line, having made a top up purchase for the phone associated with it in November 2021 but the number was dropped shortly afterwards.

Several months later, in June 2022, Sheikh was stopped in Dudley and detained for a drugs search. Whilst no drugs were found, Sheikh was in possession of a mobile phone, which contained deleted bulk messages advertising class A drugs for sale and using the name Sandy.

Another Sandy drugs line number was identified in December 2022. This line was activated just six days after Sheikh was searched in June. Identical regular bulk messages from this line were sent on an almost daily basis between September and December to approximately 300 mobile numbers, with many linked to known drug users in Dudley.

The investigation identified a regular pattern of movement between Sheik’s then Birmingham home and Dudley, once the bulk messages had been sent out. This number was also dropped, but through further telecommunication enquiries we identified the new drugs line number.

Police subsequently identified another phone Sheikh was using as belonging to his girlfriend, Sapphire Edwards and linked the 33-year-old’s phone to the latest drugs line and to movements around a Dudley address suspected to be associated with drug dealing, and where she was living at the time.

Police searched the address in March last year, and arrested Edwards after recovering a substantial amount of heroin and crack cocaine from a bedroom. She was released on bail but a further examination of her phone showed that she had been in contact with the existing drugs line. Images and messages retrieved from her phone also suggested she was involved in drug deals.

Sheikh and Edwards were arrested at Birmingham Airport on 6 May last year as they attempted to board a flight to Cancun, Mexico.

Sheikh had a large amount of cash on him and was wearing expensive designer items and jewellery. Luxury goods, and cannabis concealed within a container of moisturising cream, were also found in his suitcase. Both Sheikh and Edwards had their personal phones seized. When reviewed, the phones showed that the couple were picked up from an address in Edgbaston that morning.

Following a search of that property, high value designer clothes and cannabis with a street value of £2000 were discovered. Sheikh and Edwards were charged and remanded in custody.

Sheikh later pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine and heroin, and possession of a controlled class B drug with intent to supply. Edwards also pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine and heroin.

Detective Constable Phil Langstone from our County Lines Taskforce said: “Mohammed Sheikh was running a profitable drugs operation with little regard for its devastating impact on others, including his girlfriend who he cajoled into working for him.

“He tried hard to evade us, dropping and running new phone lines, but we were determined to bring his dealings to an end and we’re pleased to see him behind bars after a thorough investigation.”

Detective Sergeant Robert Moir from the taskforce added: “Sheikh was happy to benefit from selling drugs, knowing the misery they inflict on communities, and was planning to spend some of the profits on a luxury holiday in Mexico. Fortunately we were able to arrest him before he boarded the plane and he is now having an all-inclusive experience at His Majesty’s pleasure.”


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