A day in the life of a 16-year-old county lines drug dealer

Homeless drugs

Published at 7:10am 14th May 2019. (Updated at 7:11am 14th May 2019)

What's it like to be a 16-year-old 'county lines' drug dealer?

It starts with text messages.

Hundreds of them, sent from the one phone, beamed out to ‘customers’ every morning to advise them of the crack cocaine and heroin deals on offer for the day.

In Harrogate, about 200 to 250 daily drug users will receive the messages and respond accordingly, as the phone’s operator sets up a day packed with illicit business.

The operator themself isn’t in Harrogate though, or even Yorkshire – they’re based in Manchester, and that’s where the unique elements of “county lines” crime come in.

The operator has ‘befriended’ a 16-year-old boy, with the aim of recruiting him into his drug-dealing network.

The boy will typically come from a background that has left him vulnerable and socially isolated. There’s a high chance he comes from a single-parent family, or his parents may be drug users too.

Showered with money or gifts and vulnerable to the influences of social media posts glamorising drug-dealing, the boy is loaded up with a backpack carrying between 150-200 ‘wraps’ – packages of heroin or crack cocaine.

In another potentially deadly twist, there’s a good chance he’ll also be armed with a knife or a machete.

He’ll catch the train by himself from Manchester to Harrogate or another North Yorkshire town, before spending the day distributing drugs to the ‘customers’ reached by that morning’s text messages.

The above story is given as a classic example of the county lines model by North Yorkshire Police’s Temporary Detective Sergeant Tom Barker – one of a seven-strong team tasked with tackling county lines crime in Harrogate.

Eventually, when the operator has enough trust in his young sidekick, he’ll be told to take 500 wraps with him and spend the week in Harrogate, commandeering the house of a regular customer to live and deal from – an action described by police as ‘cuckooing’. 

Detective Sergeant Barker said:

"Typically, end users are quite happy to have host a young drug dealer, as it means they’ll get free drugs."

It’s a lifestyle that opens up young people to a variety of abuses – particularly physical and sexual – and is why Detective Sergeant Barker says it’s so important to smash the lines and childrens’ involvement in them.

Rather than catching and charging young people, Detective Sergeant Barker said it’s about knowing the signs of when a young person is at risk, and preventing them from progressing down the wrong path.

You can find out more, including the warning signs to look out for, by clicking here. 

Email Icon

Sign up for exclusive news, competitions and offers.
Proper Local News updates from Stray FM

Newer article
Older article

Danger of "County Lines" drug dealing laid bare at Harrogate meeting

Education: Children as young as 10 are being exploited by criminals in North Yorkshire.

Top articles

Ivor Novello Awards: Richard Ashcroft, The 1975, Mariah Carey and Wiley among winners

National: Richard Ashcroft, The 1975, Wiley and Mariah Carey were among the winners honoured at this year's Ivor Novello Awards.

Geoffrey Rush: Oscar-winning actor awarded record £1.5m damages in defamation case

World: Geoffrey Rush is set to receive the largest ever damages payout to a single person in Australia's history following a defamation case against a newspaper publisher and journalist. 

Toronto Raptors have fought back to level series with Milwaukee Bucks - how have they done so?

Sport: Down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks, it looked as though the Toronto Raptors had another painful, unavoidable postseason collapse coming their way. Now, though, it seems not.

Ivor Novello Awards: Richard Ashcroft, The 1975, Mariah Carey and Wiley among winners

Showbiz: Richard Ashcroft, The 1975, Wiley and Mariah Carey were among the winners honoured at this year's Ivor Novello Awards.

NEW Toy Story 4 trailer

Family: Our favourite toys are back and are off on a new adventure!

WATCH: 43 Minutes of Queen in the 70s

70s: The band's team have put together highlights of the their early career including some iconic performances.

Did you bet on this 'Dark Horse'?

70s On This Day: George Harrison launched his own record label

You're being asked to Bake for Heroes

Charity Hub: TV chef is encouraging you join in!

Welcome to Yorkshire’s canal garden cruises to gold

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: It's been recognised at this year's Chelsea Flower Show

Top Party Dresses for the Festive Season

Christmas: Local Blogger, the Harrogate Girl, picks the best frocks, gowns and outfits for the big Christmas parties of 2017.

"It's a fantastic place": Harrogate cancer centre celebrates major milestone

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: The Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at Harrogate District Hospital is marking its five year anniversary.

Stray FM celebrates BEST EVER audience figures

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: More of you are listening for longer as we celebrate our 25th birthday

Delve into deliciousness at Mother Shiptons Inn

Test pages: We sent Stray FM's James Stanley to try out the new menu at Mother Shipton's Inn Knaresborough.

Tour de Yorkshire host venues confirmed

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: There'll be no re-run of this year's memorable Tour de France stage finish in Harrogate.

North Yorkshire districts among best places to live in UK

Harrogate, Craven & Wharfedale: Three parts of North Yorkshire have been named in the top ten places to live in the UK.

Poll

Bank holidays - are there too many this time of year?