Five alleged members of a ‘county lines’ drugs gang have gone on trial, accused of being involved in a conspiracy to flood the streets of Barrow with heroin and crack cocaine.

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 Cumbria, Preston Crown Court was told.

Using phone lines named ‘Barry’ and ‘Able’, the network transported drugs from a house in Coventry, where they were stored and cut into street level deals.

Runners, including teenage boys, were brought to Barrow under cover of darkness, and set up in the town to deliver their wares.

Leader Michael Emeofa, 20, a drug dealer from Bromley, London, has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs, along with 12 others.

Now, Princewell Enaruba, 24, Shanice Knight Junaid, 24, Deborah Abolaji, 20, Robert Russell, 43, and Richard Cleary, 52, all deny a charge of conspiracy to supply class A drugs between March 1 2018 and January 9 2019.

Richard Archer, prosecuting, 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.”

The court heard how gang leader Emeofa learned his trade as a runner for another conspiracy, but by 2018 he was running his own gang.

The court was told that Emeofa’s friend Enaruba, 24, and his partner Junaid, 24, rented a student house in Coventry “to give an air of legitimacy to the operation”.

The house, in Signal Drive, was “a hub of drug dealing activity” where runners would visit, drugs would be stored and Emeofa visited, 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.”

Another alleged member of the operation, Abolaji, is accused by the prosecution of working 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.

She has admitted possession with intent to supply class B.

At least one teenager was “plucked from the care system” and set up in a house in Barrow to fulfil his part of the conspiracy, the court heard.

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

Enaruba and Cleary also deny a second conspiracy, the ‘Aladdin’ line, between September 1 2018 and January 9 2019.