LLANELLI has now become a “thriving market for drugs” due to a surge in “county lines” gangs, Swansea Crown Court heard last week.
Locals are being targeted by gangs from Birmingham and Liverpool selling Class A drugs such as crack and heroin.
Organised crime groups have been sending dealers – often youngsters with no criminal records to avoid suspicion to Carmarthenshire to set up shop.
The details emerged at the sentencing of a teenager last week who was sent to Llanelli to sell crack cocaine by a criminal gang.
Cameron Davy, 18, of Duncumb Road, Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham was found in a block of flats at Clos Dewi Medi in Morfa, Llanelli with 29 wraps of the class A drug and £1,132 in cash on 10 January.
Swansea Crown Court heard that police knew the teenager was from the Midlands and believed he may have been linked to a ‘county lines’ operation.
Jim Davis, prosecuting, told the court that when police were able to analyse the defendant’s phone they found numerous texts relating to drug deals over the preceding weeks and messages that showed he had regular contact with a criminal drugs gang known to police as “The Marco Line.”
Davy pleaded guilty to possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply and to possessing criminal property. The court heard he had no previous convictions.
Kate Williams, for Davy, said her client’s dealing had lasted a “couple of weeks” and he had been due to be paid £300 for his trip to Llanelli.
She said the defendant was very much at the bottom of the chain of command of the gang and had declined to name those who had sent him to west Wales. The barrister said when Davy’s mother had received the phone call to say her son was in custody she had no idea where Llanelli was, let alone why he was there.
Williams added that gangs tended to use people with no previous convictions to do their work because they were less likely to come to the attention of police.
Recorder Simon Mills told Davy custody was inevitable for those who dealt in Class A drugs.
Giving the defendant a one-third discount for his guilty pleas he sentenced the teenager to two years four months for the drugs charge, and to eight months for the money laundering charge – the sentences will run concurrently making an overall sentence of two years and four months in youth detention.
Davy will serve half that sentence in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.
The judge said the defendant would still be 19 when he was released from the custodial element of the sentence and he then faced a stark choice.
He told the defendant he would still be “a young man with your whole life ahead of you” and could either stay involved in drugs – becoming “a broken addict looking old beyond your years” or a “hardened thug in a gang facing prison sentences in double figures” – or he could turn his back on that lifestyle and lead a “decent life”.
As he sent him down, Recorder Mills added: “I urge him to think about that moment his mother got the phone call from him.”
Speaking after the sentencing Dyfed-Powys Police detective inspector Andrew Griffiths told The Llanelli Herald that tackling the trade in drugs was a priority for the force.
He said: “Illegal drugs cause misery and they need to be taken off the streets.
“Tackling the issue is a top priority, and I encourage anyone with any information or concerns about drug misuse to contact us. As the sentencing of Cameron Davy shows, we will take action.”
Self Assessment customers warned about scammers posing as HMRC
SELF ASSESSMENT customers should be alert to criminals claiming to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
As the department issues thousands of SMS messages and emails as part of its annual Self Assessment tax return push, HMRC is warning customers completing their returns to take care to avoid being caught out by scammers. The annual tax return deadline is on 31 January 2021.
The department knows that fraudsters use calls, emails or texts to contact customers. In the last 12 months, HMRC has responded to more than 846,000 referrals of suspicious HMRC contact from the public, and reported over 15,500 malicious web pages to internet service providers to be taken down. Almost 500,000 of the referrals from the public offered bogus tax rebates.
Many scams target customers to inform them of a fake ‘tax rebate’ or ‘tax refund’ they are due. The imposters use language intended to convince them to hand over personal information, including bank details, in order to claim the ‘refund’. Criminals will use this information to access customers’ bank accounts, trick them into paying fictitious tax bills, or sell on their personal information to other criminals.
HMRC’s Interim Director General for Customer Services, Karl Khan, said: “We know that criminals take advantage of the Self Assessment deadline to panic customers into sharing their personal or financial details and even paying bogus ‘tax due’.
“If someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or asking for money, it might be a scam. Please take a moment to think before parting with any private information or money.”
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: “Criminals are experts at impersonating organisations that we know and trust. We work closely with HMRC to raise awareness of current scams and encourage people to report any suspicious calls or messages they receive, even if they haven’t acted on them, to the relevant channels. This information is crucial in disrupting criminal activity and is already helping HMRC take down fraudulent websites being used to facilitate fraud.
“It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone purporting to be from HMRC asking for your personal or financial details, or offering you a tax rebate, grant or refund, this could be a scam. Do not respond, hang up the phone, and take care not to click on any links in unexpected emails or text messages. You should contact HMRC directly using a phone number you’ve used before to check if the communication you have received is genuine.
“If you’ve been the victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and please report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.”
Customers can report suspicious activity to HMRC at email@example.com and texts to 60599. They can also report phone scams online on GOV.UK.
HMRC is also warning the public to be aware of websites that charge for government services – such as call connection sites – that are in fact free or charged at local call rates. Other companies charge people for help getting ‘tax refunds’. One way to safely claim a tax refund for free is to log into your Personal Tax Account.
HMRC has a dedicated Customer Protection team that identifies and closes down scams but asks the public to recognise the signs to avoid becoming a victim. HMRC regularly publishes examples of new scams on GOV.UK to help customers recognise phishing emails and bogus contact by email, text or phone.
Ways to spot a tax scam
It could be a scam if it:
· is unexpected
· offers a refund, tax rebate or grant
· asks for personal information like bank details
· is threatening
· tells you to transfer money.
Self Assessment customers can complete their tax return online and help and support is available on GOV.UK.
To protect against identity fraud customers must verify their identity when accessing HMRC’s online services. They must have two sources of information including:
· credit reference agency data
· tax credits
· UK Passport
BHF Cymru calls for stock donations before Christmas
BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION Cymru’s home store in Llanelli is appealing to the local community to donate their unwanted items before Christmas.
The charity shop on Vaughan Street has reopened following the recent ‘firebreak lockdown’ and desperately needs stock to help raise funds for life saving research. During the pandemic and the town’s local lockdowns BHF Cymru has missed the local community’s generous donations of preloved items such as sofas, beds, kitchenware and dining furniture.
Richard Jones manager of the home store appealed for local people doing a pre-Christmas clear out at home to make a donation. Every item sold will be turned into funds for research that could help transform the lives of the 340,000 people in Wales living with heart and circulatory diseases.
“Like all charity shops this year has been a tough one for us,” said Richard. “We’re back open now and our staff and volunteers are here to welcome our customers safely into the store. Our free collections service is now back up and running, with Covid-secure measures in place and is available to book online. We are more than happy to receive any quality unwanted furniture, electrical and homewares so we can continue to raise money in support of our lifesaving research.”
“It’s easy to donate and depending on your preference, our van crews will either collect from your room of choice, your doorstep or an alternative safe access point. All collections will be signature free.”
The coronavirus crisis has had a devastating impact on the BHF’s income, leading to a potential £50 million cut in research funding and the delay of important scientific breakthroughs. It is now urgently asking the local community to support it by simply donating good quality items that they have been clearing out while at home.
Head of BHF Cymru Adam Fletcher said: “We currently fund £3m into research in Wales to help prevent, treat and cure heart and circulatory diseases. Every pound raised in our shops helps us to support the 340,000 people in Wales living with heart and circulatory diseases, many of whom are at increased risk from Covid-19. Shopping at the BHF, or donating your quality items will help us, help them.”
BHF shops and stores have measures in place to keep staff, volunteers and customers safe. Customers will also be able to donate items at contact-free donation points set up at BHF shop entrances.
The BHF home store is located Vaughan Street in Llanelli. To contact the store please call 01554 528730
To book a free collection visit https://www.bhf.org.uk/shop/donating-goods/book-furniture-collection-near-me
Six men arrested for kidnap in Llanelli
SIX men have been arrested on suspicion of kidnap, police have confirmed.
Dyfed-Powys Police said it followed calls from the public on Saturday afternoon about an incident in Llanelli.
A car was then stopped shortly afterwards in the Trostre area and six occupants were arrested, police have confirmed.
All six are in custody, while a man identified as the possible kidnap victim is “safe and well”.
“At approximately 1:30pm on Saturday (Nov 14) we received reports from the public of a suspected kidnapping in Station Road,” said Chief Inspector Chris Neve.
“An urgent investigation was commenced, which led to a vehicle being stopped in the Trostre area, and the arrest of six men within the vehicle.
“A man identified as the possible victim is safe and well.”
The Dyfed-Powys force said it was not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident and patrols would be conducted in the area on Sunday, to help reassure the community.
Ch Insp Neve added: “I understand the public may be concerned by this incident, but would like to reassure the community of Llanelli that this incident is isolated to those involved and there is no risk to anyone else at this time.”
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