TEENAGE dealers set up drug dens in a bid to flood the streets of Barrow with heroin and crack cocaine, a court has heard.

The first day of the trial of six members of an alleged drugs gang heard that from March 2018 to January 2019 at least 20 people were involved in a sophisticated network which had its roots in South East London to peddle misery on the streets of Barrow.

Using phone lines named Barry and Able the gang transported drugs to Barrow from a house in Coventry.

Runners, including teenage boys, were brought to Barrow under cover of darkness and set up in the town to sell the street deals.

The gang's alleged leader Michael Emeofa, 20, a drug dealer from Bromley, London, learned his trade as a runner for another conspiracy.

The trial is the culmination of a lengthy investigation by detectives in Barrow.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Richard Archer said: “The whole purpose of operating from a distance is to reduce the risk of those ultimately responsible for the whole operation being caught.

“They don’t want to risk being seen by police in a strange area and they certainly wouldn’t want to involve themselves in the hands on business of selling drugs on street corners.”

Princewell Enaruba and his partner Shanice Knight, both 24, rented a student house in Coventry 'to give an air of legitimacy to the operation', the court heard.

The house was 'a hub of drug dealing activity', the court heard.

But Mr Archer said: “He (Enaruba) had no legitimate link to Coventry.

“Like Emeofa, his roots are in London and though at one time he enrolled as a student at the university, such time was short.”

Other members of the operation were Deborah Abolaji, 20, who the prosecution say worked as a driver for Emeofa.

When she was arrested at her halls of residence, at the University of Hertfordshire, she pointed officers to cannabis stored in a laundry detergent box - and has admitted possession with intent to supply class B.

Callum Gentle, 18, from Essex, was 'plucked from the care system' and set up in a house in Barrow to fulfil his part of the conspiracy, the court heard.

Mr Archer said during the trial Gentle will claim to be a victim of modern slavery, but the barrister added: “He willingly allowed himself to be involved in street dealing of Class A drugs.”

Robert Russell, 43, of Worcester Street, Barrow, and Richard Cleary, 52, of Jonathan Road, Coventry, are alleged to have worked as drivers in the conspiracy.

Enaruba, Knight, Abolaji, Gentle, Russell and Cleary all deny conspiracy to supply Class A drugs between March 1 2018 and January 9 2019.

Enaruba and Cleary also deny a second conspiracy, related to running the Aladdin drugs line between September 1 2018 and January 9 2019.

Emeofa has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.