Teens jailed over drugs ring run from Ottery house

Umit Tutal Imad Talbi Axminster Ottery drugs ring jailed DCP

Unit Tutal, left, and Imad Talbi have been jailed - Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

A pair of teenagers who ran a County Lines drugs gang from a Bed and Breakfast in Axminster and a house in Ottery have been jailed.

Umit Tutal and Imad Talbi, spent £100 a night renting rooms at the Axminster guest house where they had four separate stays, one of which lasted for nine nights.

They used it as a base to send out dozens of text messages advertising special offers on heroin and crack cocaine, with slogans including ‘big bits’ and ‘super value’.

One or both made 18 return trips to London to deliver cash and pick up more drugs and recruited a local addict to drive them on two or three occasions.

The men were both aged 18 at the time and extended their operation to a house in Ottery St Mary, where they gave the tenant free drugs in exchange for using it to pack and store drugs.

Gemma Small, 45, of Mossop Close, Ottery St Mary, previously admitted allowing her premises to be used for the supply of heroin and crack cocaine.

They used the street name Doctor for their drugs line and Talbi went on to run an identical operation in Kent using the name Bonez.

They were caught with drugs worth £4,420 and the phones which they used to control the Doctor line when police raided the B&B in February 2020. 

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Analysis of the phone showed they had been operating for just under three months.

Both claimed to be victims of modern slavery who had been bullied into taking part, but Tutal had previous convictions for drug dealing going back to when he was 15, and Talbi was arrested with more drugs in Maidstone while he was on bail for the Devon offences.

Talbi and Tutal, both now aged 20, and both from London, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine and were each jailed for three years and eight months by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court.

He told them: "It is probably the case you were put under pressure or exploited to begin with but the difficulty for you is that you never stopped and you never sought help.

"You were both going back and forth to London for two months, up and down, up and down with drugs and money. You engaged in the overall operation."

Joss Ticehurst, prosecuting, said Talbi told the owner of the bed and breakfast that he was a student called Adam who was on holiday in Devon. 

The men stayed four times for several days, always paying the £100 room rent in cash.

He said images of drugs and money were found on the phone which they used to run the Doctor line from Axminster and a house in Ottery St Mary.

Miss Elena Papamichael, for Talbi, said he has previously had charges against him dropped after being identified as a victim of modern slavery. He went to live with relatives in Morocco to escape gang culture in London but was drawn back in on his return.

Mr Aneurin Brewer, for Tutal, said he had been drawn into the world of drugs at a very young age and then been recruited.

Both defendants were only 18 at the time of the conspiracy and they were towards the bottom end of the chain and not the ones making large profits.

In earlier hearings, a woman who allowed her home to be used as a base and a man who acted as chauffeur to the gang both received community or suspended sentences.

Nathan Ross, 37, of Barline, Beer, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine and was jailed for two years, curfewed for four months and ordered to do 20 days of rehabilitation activities.

Gemma Small, 45, of Mossop Close, Ottery St Mary admitted allowing her premises to be used for the supply of heroin and crack cocaine and was ordered to do 15 hours unpaid community work and 10 days of rehabilitation activities.