A DRUGS operation with links to a notorious east London street gang flooded Swindon with up to £660,000-worth of heroin and crack cocaine.

Five men who admit working for the County Line, nicknamed “Alex”, have been told to expect lengthy jail spells when they return to Swindon Crown Court next month to be sentenced.

Andre Hewitt was described as the main player in the Alex line, overseeing the operation between December 2016 and August 2017.

The gang sold heroin and crack cocaine to desperate Swindon addicts, sending thousands of text messages to advertise their wares.

Police drugs experts estimated from phone records the gang could have sold anything between 2.6kg to 6.6kg of heroin and crack – with a street value of between £266,000 and £665,000 respectively.

Prosecuting, Susan Cavender said the Alex line had been associated with two telephone numbers – with the second introduced after the gang feared the first had been compromised.

Hewitt, 28, of London Road, Grays, was the principal organiser, hiring cars from a firm in London to drive down to Swindon and deliver the drugs to local runners.

Shane Drew, 30, of Wrotham Road, London, and another with links to east London gang the London Fields Boys, was his trusted lieutenant. When Hewitt jetted off for holidays in Mexico and Cyprus in early 2017 Drew was left to oversee the line.

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Swindon Crown Court

Jay Dodson, 28, of Montgomery Avenue, Pinehurst, managed the Swindon side of the operation. He was spotted on CCTV at a store on Wingate Parade in Pinehurst buying top-up cards for the pay-as-you-go mobile phone essential to the Alex line’s business.

Dodson was arrested in February 2017 after being seen apparently dealing drugs and later that day meeting Hewitt and Drew.

Jacob Turley, 21, of Rodbourne Road, Swindon, and Jason Stiggers, 21, of no fixed address, were described as street runners. A video found on a mobile phone seized by police showed the pair in an alleyway dealing drugs in May 17.

Turley was arrested in Bristol in June and he was found with £80 cash and text messages indicating he had been dealing.

Stiggers was on the phone to his co-conspirators when his Milton Road home was raided by police. He threw a package containing crack cocaine from a skylight and detectives found a crossbow, baseball bat and drugs paraphernalia in the house.


All five men have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Archangelo Power, for Hewitt, said his client had been acting on the instructions of others and had entered early guilty pleas: “He was the first of these defendants to put his hands up and plead, which has invariably caused others to topple in domino effect.” In a letter to the judge, Hewitt said he was extremely remorseful and told of the impact the case had had on his mental health.

Tom Copeland, for Drew, claimed his client’s involvement had been relatively limited. He acknowledged that Drew had served a lengthy sentence for drugs supply: “He’s known Mr Hewitt a very long time. They were good friends and he agreed to assist Mr Hewitt on these occasions because he is a friend – a good friend. He’s someone who could be trusted and he had a previous conviction for a previous drugs offence so he knew what he was doing.”

Mr Copeland added: “He’s very sorry and remorseful for getting involved in drugs supply again.”

Tony Bignall, for Dodson, pleaded the fact his client had no relevant previous convictions, there had been no violence or coercion involved in the operation. “He knows there has to be punishment. He knows it has got to be custody,” Mr Bignall added.

Peter Pride, for Stiggers, made an application to the judge for his client to be sentenced at a future date in order to tie up with other matters.

Richard Williams, for Turley, said his client had only been involved for a period of around a month: “At the time be became involved he was effectively homeless and sofa surfing. He was told what to do, given drugs to sell [to] a certain person each time.”

The length of time that had passed since the drugs line was active was pleaded in mitigation by all the defendants’ lawyers.

Sentencing delayed

Judge Peter Crabtree remanded the men in custody to appear before Swindon Crown Court on December 20.

Remanding them, he told the men: “I have thought carefully about it, albeit I haven’t heard submissions until just now about whether any of these defendants should be released on bail - notably those who have young children.

“But these are all matters where in my view the inevitable sentence is a custodial one.”

Who are the London Fields Boys?

Notorious street gang the London Fields Boys has been linked to murder, mayhem and drug dealing.

Police say Andre Hewitt and Shane Drew had both been gang-members. The latter has served jail time for two offences associated with his role in the east London gang.

In 2011, two members of the London Fields Boys were jailed for the murder of a Hoxton schoolgirl. Seven months later, then 22-year-old Drew was among three gangsters jailed for a revenge attempt on an 18-year-old witness in the murder case.

The following year, Drew was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for his part in a conspiracy to supply heroin with an estimated street value of £200,000.

The London Fields Boys enjoyed a brief taste of Hollywood stardom when gritty street drama Top Boy hit TV screens in 2011.

The show depicted warring drug gangs fight for control of a fictious Hackney estate. But the TV producers took the London Fields name.

Shortly after the first series aired, one Hackney man grumbled to The Guardian: “They implied London Fields is running things.”