Drugs kingpin jailed for running UK's biggest 'county lines' gang

Drugs kingpin, 22, who was trained by students in university halls of residence, is jailed for running Britain’s biggest ‘county lines’ operation

  • Michael Emeofa, 22, was drug runner for two Central Lancs University students
  • When pair were caught peddling drugs he set up his own network in Coventry
  • He even enrolled on a course and took a halls place to provide a cover story
  • Operation flooded the Cumbrian town Barrow-in-Furness with class-A drugs
  • He was sentenced to nine years in jail at Preston Crown Court after admitting conspiracy to supply controlled drugs of class A

Michael Emeofa, 22, has been sentenced to nine years in jail at Preston Crown Court after running the country’s largest ever ‘county lines’ operation

A drugs kingpin who learned his trade from dealers living in university halls of residence has been jailed for running the country’s largest ever ‘county lines’ operation.

Michael Emeofa, 22, from south London, initially acted as a drugs runner for two men who studied at the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston.

Emeofa went on to set up his own drugs operation and flooded the Cumbrian town Barrow-in-Furness with class-A drugs, between March and October, 2018.

Police launched a major investigation, termed ‘Operation Horizon’, in 2018 after the deaths of 14 people in Barrow, over a six week period.

The full extent of the drugs operation can now be reported, following the sentencing of Emeofa.

Emeofa set up his own county line, nicknamed ‘Able’, after his friends Daniel Olaloko and Peter Adebayo were caught peddling drugs from UCLan halls in 2017 and 2018.

He used a flat in Coventry to run networks of low-level drug dealers tasked with shipping crack cocaine and heroin across the country.

Emeofa even enrolled on a course at Coventry University and obtained a place in university halls to provide a cover story for living there. He later dropped out.

Emeofa, 22, from south London, initially acted as a drugs runner for two men who studied at the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston


Emeofa set up his own county line, nicknamed ‘Able’, after his friends Daniel Olaloko and Peter Adebayo were caught peddling drugs from UCLan halls in 2017 and 2018

He was sentenced to nine years in jail at Preston Crown Court yesterday, having previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply controlled drugs of class A.

David Bentley, defending, said Emeofa’s mother believed her son would not be in the dock but for the death of his father six years ago and the loss of his ‘positive influence’.

Emeofa, achieved impressive grades at a private boarding school in Nigeria and aspired to seek a university education in law and business, the court heard.

Mr Bentley said: ‘He is still a very young man who can change the course of his life.’

Judge Graham Knowles told Emeofa: ‘You say in your own letter (to the judge) that you made stupid decisions. They were motivated, I think, in large part by wanting money.

Emeofa then used a flat in Coventry to run networks of low-level drug dealers tasked with shipping crack cocaine and heroin across the country.

‘It is easy money if you run county lines operations because it is others who pay the price.

‘The man running the line only pays the price if he is caught and that is why the sentence is so severe.’

Police have estimated at their peak the dealers were operating as many as 15 county lines running drugs into Barrow with hundreds of drug deals taking place each week.

A total of 29 people have been sentenced to more than 100 years in jail as a result of the operation. Another four received suspended sentences.

Following the case, detective chief superintendent Dean Holden said: ‘The sentences handed out and the results we have achieved through Operation Horizon should send a clear and stark message: All those who believe they can exploit areas like Cumbria through county lines should think again.

‘The sentences handed out are welcomed and should be seen as a warning – as well as the consequence for anyone involved in county lines drugs supply in this county.’

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