Harlow drug dealer jailed after running line from prison

Crime / Fri 9th Feb 2024 at 01:33pm

A CONVICTED criminal who continued to run a drug line from his prison cell has been jailed for a further 10 years thanks to extensive work by specialist officers.

This work has seen the BEN drug line, which operated out of London and supplied crack cocaine and heroin on the streets of Harlow, entirely dismantled.

Leon Finnegan, 35, had twice been caught running the BEN line, once in 2015 and again in 2019, and was serving a sentence for this latter case when fresh evidence came to light.

Intelligence emerged the line had started up again in September 2020.

Due to his previous involvement, we examined records of Finnegan’s phone calls from prison, which revealed he continued to direct and advise others involved in the line.

Finnegan admitted two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs during his trial last year.

During a sentencing hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday 2 February, Judge Timothy Walker said:

“It is clear from the telephone conversations that you continued to play a significant role in the operation of the drugs line.”

He was jailed for 10 years and nine months, consecutive to the sentence he is already serving for prior drug dealing.

Other offenders who worked for the line have already been sentenced.

These include:

Justin Hay, 41, of Church Street, London, who was arrested in January 2021 and found with the BEN line phone.

Examination of this phone uncovered messages between Hay and Finnegan.

This led to a search of Finnegan’s prison cell, uncovering a mobile phone which was cracked after Finnegan refused to provide access.

Messages on this device showed the pair’s involvement in drug supply.

Hay was further charged with a modern slavery offence in relation to the exploitation of a vulnerable drug user.

The vulnerable user’s home was used to aid in the supply of drugs.

Hay admitted two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, two counts of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply and arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation.

He was jailed for five years in May 2021.

Daniel Liddell, 37, of Detmold Road, London, who was involved in street-level dealing for the BEN line.

He admitted two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and was jailed for 40 months in May 2021.

Morad Limlahi, 39, of Rossendale Street, London, was found to be in communication with Finnegan and admitted two counts of conspiring to supply a Class A drug.

He was sentenced to two years and seven months imprisonment in November 2021.

When jailing Limlahi, Judge Patricia Lynch said: “You knew full well what you were up to.

“You were helping Finnegan running his drugs empire whilst he was in prison.”

Officer in the case DC Emily Larkin, of our Major Investigations Team, said: “Through careful investigative work, we were able to irrefutably show Finnegan remained committed to his role running a drug line selling heroin and crack cocaine in Harlow.

“Despite twice being caught running the same line, he continued this activity from prison, directing those below him in the chain.

“His considerable prison sentence marks the last of the BEN line to be jailed and serves to show how seriously the courts take drug dealing matters.

“This case also included a rare charge and conviction against Hay for the exploitation of a vulnerable drug user.

“The message here is clear. Those who seek to use those suffering from addictions to further their criminal aims will be held accountable for their actions.

“We have also taken steps to ensure support is in place for the person exploited in this case.

“Where we can, it is vital we show those used and exploited by committed criminals that there is a way out of their situation.”

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6 Comments for Harlow drug dealer jailed after running line from prison:

2024-02-09 13:50:51

Well done plod

2024-02-10 18:04:02

Leave him in there.

2024-02-10 18:24:20

The fact that he was able to continue running a drugs operation whilst serving a prison sentence shows what a nonsense our jails are, they are meant to be a punishment not a home from home comfort break with sky TV mobile phones and games consoles.

Guy Flegman
2024-02-11 09:04:51

How is it that mobile phones work in prison. It’s not difficult to stop mobile phone signals in buildings. Companies have been doing it for years. They also don’t mention if they have stopped access to phones for this individual. If he has done it once while in prison, he will do it again.

2024-02-11 16:41:32

I agree Guy. You can get signal jammers installed.

Ian G
2024-02-14 22:06:44

I personally had run ins with this thug and can confidently say that should he be released from prison he will most certainly start working in Asda.

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