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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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Police operation puts Barrow dealers behind bars

TWO heroin dealers were caught after throwing evidence down a drain in Barrow.

Offcuts from plastic bags that Darren Knowles and Tracey Wharton used to package the heroin they dealt to addicts in the town were an important factor in an investigation carried out between February and May last year.

Yesterday, Knowles and Wharton, along with two other dealers from Blackburn, were sentenced to a total of more than 15 years in prison.

Detective Constable Jamie Eaton, of Cumbria police’s Southern Area Serious Organised Crime Unit, said the operation had involved surveillance of Knowles and Wharton, who were in a relationship and lived together in Albert Street.

During the operation they made more than 60 trips to Blackburn to buy heroin from Zahir Baz. Wharton then sold the heroin to friends in Barrow.

She and Knowles were arrested in May, DC Eaton said.

However, it was only when Baz and his nephew Shazaad Mahmood were stopped on the A590 in Witherslack in January with more than £3,000 of heroin in their car that the “final piece of the puzzle” fell into place.

DC Eaton said: “The drugs would come back to their address and (Wharton) would make individual street deals using equipment in her house.

“A significant piece of evidence was that when they did street deals they had offcuts from plastic they used and they were discarded down the drain behind their home address and once they were subject to analysis, fingerprints from Tracey Wharton were (found) on them.”

When their house was searched, mobiles containing drug-related texts were discovered.

Similar information was found on Baz’s phone and more than £12,000 of heroin in a property in Blackburn.

All four offenders were jailed at Preston Crown Court yesterday.

The court heard Wharton and Knowles were no longer in a relationship. Both had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and Mahmood and Baz admitted the same charge.

Knowles, 39, of William Street, Barrow, was jailed for five years and 220 days.

Wharton, 41, of Moseley Street, Barrow, was jailed for two years and six months.

Baz, 38, of Blackburn Street, Blackburn, was sentenced to six years and Mahmood, 21, of Linden Avenue, Blackburn, was sentenced to 16 months.

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