A GROUP of drug dealers who were bringing large quantities of heroin and crack cocaine to Brighton have been jailed for a total of more than 38 years.

Four of them were sentenced when they appeared at Lewes Crown Court on Friday having been convicted at previous hearings.

They were among 80 people arrested during two long running operations carried out by detectives from Brighton and Hove Police's Community Investigation Team (CIT) into the supply of drugs into the city between December 2016 and January 2018.

The "Sparky line" defendants were one group in the long-term "county line" drug dealing conspiracy investigations, codenamed Operation Glenlivet and Operation Chalkwell by Sussex Police.

The court heard that in December 2016, during Operation Glenlivet, CIT officers first identified that Mohammed Alom and Emad Uddin were supplying heroin and crack cocaine in Brighton on behalf of the "Sparky" line.

The deal phone itself was controlled by Mejanoor Qureshi, who was based in the Manor Park area of London.

Following several arrests of Uddin and Alom in Brighton, the group started to use Mohammed Rahmn, who was a youth at the time, to continue to deal drugs in Brighton.

Qureshi himself was arrested in a hotel room in Brighton in February 2017 surrounded by cash, heroin and crack in the process of being prepared for street sale and crucially the "Sparky line" deal phone itself.

His sister Tasnia Begum was arrested in June 2017 after cash from the proceeds of the drug dealing was found to have been paid into her bank accounts by the group.

Qureshi was released on court bail for himself and in November 2017, CIT officers identified that the ‘Sparky’ line was up and running again, this time with a new mobile phone number.

This time a teenage boy and Mohammed Shah Rohim were arrested in Brighton on suspicion of drug dealing.

Qureshi was again identified as holding the "Sparky" line phone and he was arrested in Brighton along with Abu Sultan, who was in possession of cash and had just paid £980 from the proceeds of drug dealing into his bank account.

Through analysis of Sultan's phone it was identified that he was going into partnership with Qureshi. Qureshi was in possession of 308 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine and once again the key deal line phone.

Detectives estimated that about 4.1 kg of class A drugs were supplied over three months and about 50,000 calls and text messages connected to the Sparky line made in that period.

The Operation Chalkwell investigation revealed around 3.3 kg of drugs were supplied over 10 weeks

At Lewes Crown Court, Judge Mark Van Zwart said: "The trade in controlled drugs is a trade in poison. It exploits vulnerable people who become addicted.

"It ruins health and is linked to dishonesty and violence. It harms people and communities and uses enormous amount of public resources. It involves the sending of children with drugs to flood south coast towns and cities. Anyone involved in this can expect immediate and lengthy custodial sentences."

The leader and creator of the Sparky line Mejanoor Qureshi, 27, of Sherrard Road, London, was sentenced to 10 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine between 1 December 12 2016 and 15 March 2017 and between 1 November 2017 and 11 January 2018.

Mohammed Shah Rohim, 27, of Eastfield Street, London, was jailed for nine years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine between 1 November 2017 and 11 January 2018 following a three-week trial at Lewes Crown Court on 5 June.

Abu Sultan, 26, of Chicksand Street, London, was sentenced to six years imprisonment and a 16-year-old boy from London, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sjailed for twoo years and eight months after both pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine between 1 November 2017 and 11 January 2018.

Tasnia Mariya Begum, 28 of Sherrard Road, London, admitted money laundering in connection with the drugs conspiracy between 2016 and 2017. Sentencing was adjourned until Friday (6 September).

The rest of the group were sentenced earlier with Mohammed Rahat Alom, 23, of Old Bethnal Green Road, London and Emad Uddin, 24, of Queens Road, Northampton each jailed for four years and nine months at Hove Crown Court last December for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine between 1 December 2016 and 15 March 2017.

On 7 June Aminur Rahman, 24, of Wickford Street, London ,appeared at Lewes Crown Court and was sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment for being concerned in the supply of cannabis between 2015 – 2018, which was said to be between 10 to 20kg of the class B drug amounting to profits of £200,000 during the period. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Mohammed Maroufu Rahman, now aged 19, from Ollerton Green, London, received a youth referral order in relation to conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine between 1 December 2016 and 15/03/2017.

Detective Constable Jon Freeman said: "We are very pleased with the sentences passed to day and hope they send out a clear message that county line drug dealing will not be tolerated.

"Heroin is an evil drug that causes misery, harm and even death and county lines such as Qureshi’s Sparky line are exploiting the vulnerable for their own personal gain.

"The Community Investigation Team is just one of the teams in Brighton and Hove that is dedicated to making the city a hostile place to deal drugs."