Police tear down more than 70 County Lines drugs gangs one year on from launch of Operation Apollo


THREE Warrington men and an inmate from Thorn Cross Prison are amongst those serving over 100 years in jail time, following multiple arrests by Cheshire Police tackling County Lines drug dealers.

Drugs, cash, weapons and luxury items have beden seized – along with multiple arrests and convictions made since the launch of Operation Apollo one-year ago with over 70 County Lines drugs gangs being torn down.

Twenty-eight of those arrested have already been jailed for more than 100 years including three from Warrington and an inmate at Thorn Cross.
Amir Malik, 31, of Birchwood Boulevard, Warrington – charged with PWITS Cocaine, PWITS Heroin, dangerous driving and jailed for 5 years 6 months.
Lewis Johnson, 25, of Elizabeth Drive, Warrington – charged with being concerned in the supply crack cocaine, concerned in the supply of heroin, POCA, and jailed for 44 months.
Callum Foran, 23, of Chiltern Road, Warrington – charged with PWITS crack cocaine, PWITS heroin, recall to prison and jailed for 66 months.
Kabo Masalila, 32, HMP THORN CROSS – charged with PWITS Crack cocaine, PWITS heroin and jailed for 60 months.
County Lines
In November 2022, Op Apollo was launched by the Cheshire Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in a bid to proactively target County Lines operating across the county.
A year on, 87 people have been arrested as a result of the work carried out by a dedicated team of detectives, and 70 County Lines gangs have been torn down.
Twenty-eight of those arrested have already been jailed for over 100 years for a variety of drug offences, with a further 40 waiting for their cases to be finalised at court – four of which have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
Detectives enlisted a range of tactics throughout the year to arrest and remand those involved in the drug supply and put them before the courts.
The team have also seized more than £70,000 worth of Class A drugs and over £35,000 in cash.
Thousands of pounds worth of luxury goods, including sports cars, designer clothing and jewellery were also recovered.

Detective Inspector Robert Balfour, from Cheshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “In the last 12 months, a dedicated team of detectives have focused on pursuing individuals engaged in the supply and distribution of illegal drugs within Cheshire.
“Since the launch of Operation Apollo, we have worked tirelessly to target those who cause the most harm to our communities by dismantling County Lines operating from within our borders and beyond.
“With the continued support from within Cheshire Police, neighbouring forces and partners, we are well equipped to protect our communities and most vulnerable from the devastation brought forth by County Line gangs. This coordinated approach has made a significant difference to the number of County Lines operating in Cheshire and we will continue to relentlessly target all criminals involved.
“As a result, 87 people have been arrested, 28 of which have already admitted to their criminality and have been jailed for over 100 years.
“These arrests have led to the seizure of Class A and Class B drugs, quantities of cash, and luxury items, which will all be processed through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
“This operation has been paramount in disrupting dangerous offenders who believed they were operating their criminality under the radar. Be assured that our work is continuing, and we will useall resources available to us to crackdown on County Lines.”

Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “The results over the past year demonstrate Cheshire’s determination to make the county a hostile environment for criminals involved in County Line drug activity and I’m incredibly proud of the work undertaken by Op Apollo so far.
“However, the work doesn’t stop there and those involved in the distribution and sale of illegal Class A and B drugs should be warned that we are relentless in our pursuit of those who seek to commit crime in our communities.”
If you believe drug activity is taking place in your community and have information, please contact Cheshire Constabulary via our website https://www.cheshire.police.uk/tell-us or you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Chair of Warrington Healthwatch Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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