MEMBERS of a drugs gang calling themselves the ‘Sugar Network’ have been jailed for more than 14 years.
Caught dealing cocaine and heroin through a network of runners in Portsmouth they have now been locked up after a major operation run by Hampshire police.
The court heard ‘bulk texts’ advertising the drugs for sale were sent out to addicts across the city.
Gang leader Kaylon Wallace travelled from London supplying runners in Portsmouth with cocaine and heroin, the court heard.
The dad-of-three’s 17-year-old lieutenant Angel McKay organised the runners in the city, was in frequent contact with Wallace and paid cash into bank accounts when told to by him.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard mum-of-one Hannah Knapp hired cars from Hertz rental for Wallace - who did not have a licence - to use on the ‘reloading’ trips to the city from London.
This was a well-organised conspiracy lasting some three months during which large quantities of class A drugs were brought to PortsmouthJudge Roger Hetherington
Surveillance officers monitored the runners in Portsmouth as detectives cracked down on the gang.
Dad-to-be Eduardo Rodrigues, one of the runners, was arrested on March 5 last year in St Ronan’s Road, in Southsea, with 10 wraps of cocaine and 10 wraps of heroin.
He was bailed and arrested again with two others involved in the network on March 8 in Stubbington Avenue.
Police found Rodrigues had four wraps of heroin and three wraps of crack.
McKay was also arrested at the same address, which was the home of addict Annette Collins, who was found with heroin and crack on her.
Taisha Samuels, another runner, was arrested on January 19 in 2015 and the court heard her role was limited to one transaction she had been seen conducting.
Sentencing, judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘This was a well-organised conspiracy lasting some three months during which large quantities of class A drugs were brought to Portsmouth by you, Kaylon Wallace, and distributed through various runners using a number of different addresses in Portsmouth for onward sale to drug addicts and other users.
‘The scourge of drug supply can hardly be overstated.
‘Anyone who sits in these courts for any period of time knows that quite a lot of violent crime has its origin in drug supply and almost all acquisitive crime such as burglary and theft has its origin in the consumption of drugs and the need to fuel drug addiction.’
Nick Tucker, prosecuting, said: ‘This case concerns a network which supplied class A drugs - heroin and cocaine - for users in Portsmouth.
‘It was known as the Sugar Network.
‘It was run by Kaylon Wallace from his home in south-east London.
‘It may be that he chose Portsmouth as his target market because he had family living in the city.
‘We say he brought supplies of heroin and cocaine to Portsmouth as and when required.
‘He had a network of runners who worked from various addresses in Portsmouth.
‘He employed a particular phone number - 516 - which was the “network phone”.
‘Users would place orders on this number.
‘He would use it to send out bulk texts to his customers, advertising the availability of heroin and cocaine.
‘When a customer placed an order, he would use a different phone to contact one of his runners down in Portsmouth.
‘On his instruction they would go out to meet the customer at a pre-arranged location and supply them with their drugs.
‘From time to time his contacts down here would pay cash into bank accounts belonging to his mother and to Hannah Knapp, the mother of his daughter.’
The court heard the gang operated between December 2014 and March 2015.
Wallace made frequent trips down to Portsmouth in the middle of the night to ‘reload’ on average three to four times a week, the court heard.
Knapp hired cars through Hertz for Wallace, who did not have a driving licence.
Knapp accompanied him about eight times.
Her defence barrister claimed she did not have a knowledge of the operation.
But judge Hetherington said: ‘It was bad enough for your client to try and fool the jury into thinking this but you can’t fool me as well.
‘The idea that she didn’t know when she came down in the middle of the night on those trips that she didn’t know what was going on is ludicrous.’
Surveillance officers monitored the runners in Portsmouth, videoing and photographing them.
Wallace, 25, of Southend Lane, London pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A on January 19 when his trial was due to start. He has previous conviction for robbery and attempted robbery. He wasa jailed for six years and three months.
Angel McKay, 17, of Sydenham Hill, London pleaded guilty to the conspiracy on January 18. She was jailed for 32 months.
Hannah Knapp, 26, of Blossom House, Meadows Way, Brockley, was convicted of the conspiracy charge after a trial last month. She has a previous conviction for shoplifting. She was jailed for three years
Eduardo Rodrigues, 22, of Hithergreen Lane, Lewisham, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of class A with intent to supply and two counts of possession of class A in August last year. He has no previous convictions. He was jailed for 32 months.
Taisha Samuels, 18, Tresillian Road, London, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy on January 19. She has a previous conviction for attempted robbery. She was handed a two-year sentence suspended for two years.
Annette Collins, 38, of Stubbington Avenue, Portsmouth, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of class A on January 19. She was handed a 12-month community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement and 20 days of rehabilitation activities.
Collins admitted the offence on a basis, which was that she was a heavy user of class A drugs and they were supplied to her in return for allowing runners to use her home as a base.
Pierce Power, for McKay who has no previous convictions, said: ‘She was a young woman when she committed these offences.
‘She’s learnt from it, she’s kept out of trouble for the last 12 months.’
Berenice Mulvanny, for Rodrigues, said the offences were a ‘blip’ in his life.
The court heard Wallace is a carer for his sister and that money went to others ‘more sophisticated’ not caught by police.
Knapp has a ‘low risk’ of reoffending and the case had a ‘devastating’ effect on her life, and she was ‘under the direction of Kaylon Wallace, engaged by pressure or coercion or intimidation’, the court heard.
Samuels, who has since given birth, was 16 at the time and had a difficult relationship with her mother and had ‘strayed away from any guidance or support’.
Unyime Davies, for Collins, said her client was sorry for her involvement and had been targeted by drug dealers because of her addiction.
Two orders banning the naming of McKay and Samuels imposed when they were under 18 were lifted by the judge after an application by The News.