Four jailed after huge drugs clampdown in Portsmouth

GUILTY Top row from left Leon Meager and John Vella. Bottom row from left: Mark Samways and Daniel Ekong were all convicted of drug offences
GUILTY Top row from left Leon Meager and John Vella. Bottom row from left: Mark Samways and Daniel Ekong were all convicted of drug offences
Julie Corben

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FOUR more drug-dealers are behind bars following an undercover crackdown by police.

The men were all involved in different drug networks in which addicts would call a telephone number and a ‘runner’ would meet the buyer in a public place in Portsmouth.

John Vella, 49, Daniel Ekong, 22, Mark Samways, 34, and Leon Meager, 38, were all sentenced to prison at Portsmouth Crown Court yesterday.

Each was caught red-handed by undercover officers who posed as addicts to catch them as part of Operation Raft.

Vella, Samways and Meager were described as runners who delivered the drugs, while Ekong had a more significant role and was a telephone operator distributing heroin and cocaine to other people.

Heroin and cocaine worth around £8,000 was found at Ekong’s address during a police raid in Wingfield Street, Buckland, in February.

Robert Forrest, prosecuting, said: ‘The purpose of the operation was to ascertain and ultimately tackle drug networks that were operating in Portsmouth.

‘A further objective was to evidence and tackle the link between serious acquisitive crime, robberies and burglaries, and drug supply.

‘As a result of their brave endeavours police were able to see there were a large number of drug networks operating in Portsmouth at the end of last year.’

Police officer rang numbers to different networks, including ‘Q’, ‘Alex W’, ‘Reds’ and ‘Jerome’.

They were met by Vella, Samways and Meager at various locations, including Lake Road, Tottenham Road, and outside KFC at the Pompey Centre.

Regarding Meager, Mr Forrest said: ‘He was not a “big shot dealer” but had a person stay at his house who used to give him drugs to go out and give to the would-be purchaser.’

The court heard Ekong was seen directing others to hand out drugs outside Spar, in Fort Cumberland Road, Eastney.

Police later raided his home and found a mobile phone which matched the number used to obtain drugs.

Drugs intelligence officers examined the heroin and cocaine wraps given out.

Mr Forrest said: ‘Generous deals were offered as an incentive for the drug purchaser to use their network.’

All men pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs.

Vella, of Foster Road, Landport, Samways, of Sackville Street, Southsea, and Meager, of Highland Road, Southsea, were each sentenced to two years in prison, with an extra three months for Vella for theft offences.

Ekong was sentenced to three and a half years in jail.

More defendants could face jail next week.