Young drug runners are living in fear of more powerful puppet masters running the Eldene drugs line.

Lawyers painted a picture of youngsters living in genuine fear of the gang leaders - who are yet to be brought to justice - living in the shadows.

One young dealer, Aaron Betterton, was visibly distressed when he was arrested by police in a raid last November and his first thought was for his mum, who lived around the corner.

READ MORE: Jail for runners caught in den with £36,000-worth of drugs

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Police raid a house in Eldene in 2019 Picture: ADVER PHOTOGRAPHER

His lawyer, Rob Ross, told Swindon Crown Court last week: “When he was arrested in November in that house there wasn’t an arrogant young man – an arrogant young dealer – who’s been caught and is angry about that. There’s actually a very scared young man who didn’t know what might happen as a result of that raid and those drugs being lost.”

Another youngster caught selling crack and heroin to an undercover police officer, Louis Roberts, 19, fled to Thailand in order to make a clean break from former associates in east Swindon.

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Louis Roberts Picture: ADVER

READ MORE: Police react as Eldene drug gang members jailed

The teen was also represented by Mr Ross, who told the crown court last month his young client may have come under pressure to sell the drugs.

“There are a couple of people further up the chain who all the young people are fearful of,” he said.

The Eldene drugs line is one of the home-grown gangs police say are aping the tactics used by London’s County Lines gangsters, sending bulk advertising texts to users, offering deals and often using under-18s to run the drugs.

Following one set of raids in Eldene over summer, Insp David Tippetts said: “There have always been local supply networks. All they’re doing is copying the County Lines business model.”