A woman and her child were left living in fear after two men forced their way into her Northwich home to deal heroin and cocaine.
Liverpool men Mark Patterson, 29, of Coniston Street and Matthew Duncan, 28, of Warham Road made the woman live only in her bedroom while they used the rest of her home to run their county lines business.
Patterson and Duncan targeted the woman and her young daughter at their home through manipulative and coercive behaviour which left them trapped. They then used it as a place to sell, supply or store drugs – a term known as cuckooing.
Following information from the community, officers executed a warrant at the address on 25 January.
Knowing officers were outside Duncan tried to conceal the drugs by dropping them out of the window. Patterson was found to have mobile phones and up to £1000 in cash in his possession. Both men were arrested and taken into custody.
Patterson was sentenced to three years and eight months for two counts of possession with intent to supply heroin and cocaine. Duncan was jailed for two years and three months for two counts of being concerned in the supply of heroin and cocaine.
Both were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Friday 17 May.
Constable Matthew Hood, of Northwich Local Policing Unit, said: “Patterson and Duncan exploited a vulnerable woman and her child in order to profit from drug dealing.
“They left them terrified, in fear and trapped in their own home, a place where they should feel safe. When Patterson and Duncan were finally removed from her home she broke down in tears.
“What can often be forgotten is that there are victims at the centre of county lines and we work very hard to protect vulnerable adults and children from it.
“Callous criminals like Patterson and Duncan will seek out vulnerable members of our community and we need your help to spot the signs of someone being cuckooed and report it to us.”
A county line is operated by an organised crime group (OCG) who use a mobile phone, known as a ‘line’ or a ‘graft’ to extend their criminal activity business into new locations - usually from a city into rural areas.
Organised crime groups can also target and exploit children, vulnerable adults and disabled people to deliver and deal drugs on their behalf.
PC Hood added: “Due to the level of evidence against Duncan and Patterson they had no choice but to plead guilty.
“I want to take this opportunity to urge residents to keep spotting the signs of vulnerability, keep an eye out if they feel something isn’t right and to report it to us on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Information can also be provided by email https://cheshire.police.uk/contact/general-enquiries