Three men have been jailed for county lines drugs trafficking following a multi-agency arrest operation.

Officers from North Yorkshire Police conducted a detailed investigation into Class A Drugs Supply in Scarborough and identified that drugs were being imported to the Scarborough area from Huddersfield. The investigation identified those responsible and in March this year, officers from North Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Police, British Transport Police (BTP) and the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) executed warrants in Huddersfield and Whitby and made arrests in Scarborough.

As a result, Ben Whitwam, 26, of Hawthorne Terrace, in Huddersfield and 22-year-old Ben Heppenstall of Watercroft, Huddersfield and Christopher Watt, 37, of James Place, Scarborough were arrested. 

Custody image of Christopher Watt

Following a search of the properties, officers recovered a firearm and class A drugs from a Huddersfield address.

  • Heppenstall was charged with conspiracy to Supply Class A Heroin and Crack in the Scarborough area and Possession of a sawn-off shotgun.  
  • Whitwam was charged with Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs in the Scarborough area.
  • Watt was charged with Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs in Scarborough area. 

All three men pleaded guilty to the offences at York Crown Court and today (17 November 2021), Heppenstall was jailed for 10 years nine months, Whitam received seven years and nine months and Watt has been jailed for seven and a half years.

Detective Inspector Mark Catney of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional and Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), said: “The Yorkshire and Humber ROCU works extremely closely with our partner police forces and the sentencing today is a fantastic result. 

 

Custody Image of Ben Whitwam

“Drugs and firearms devastate lives and these three men took part in this criminal enterprise for their own financial gain. Joint working is essential in these sorts of operations and the ROCU is dedicated to building strong investigations with our colleagues and working with them to tackle this type of criminality and exploitation. We will support the victims of exploitation and tackle the perpetrators. 

“I would like to thank our partner agencies in North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and BTP for their hard work throughout this investigation and to keep the public safe”. 

“Organised crime has no place in our communities and we will continue to work hard to disrupt these groups. If you do notice anything suspicious, please do report this to us as your information may go a long way in helping us dismantle Organised crime groups.”

Detective Constable Phil Nockels of North Yorkshire Police said “Drug dealing, and exploitation remains a key priority for North Yorkshire Police and todays result helps to demonstrate this. County lines is being tackled across the country between forces and partner agencies.

"The fact that we have worked alongside West Yorkshire Police to bring Heppenstall and Whitwam to justice shows there are no borders. Information from members of the public is key, as it helps us build intelligence which longer term can lead to us removing drugs and the offenders involved in the supply off the streets.”

 

Custody image of Ben Heppenstall