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Woman sentenced to four years for her role in county lines drug gang

Preston Crown Court

A 41-year-old woman has been jailed for four years for her part in county lines drug dealing in Barrow.

Toni Cross, from Merseyside, appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday for sentencing after pleading guilty to offences relating to the supply of heroin and crack cocaine in Cumbria.

Operation Funicular was a county lines investigation by the South Area Drugs Unit from July 2019 to November 2019 into an organised crime gang, based in Merseyside named Jay Jay.

Officers found that  a vehicle belonging to Cross travelled regularly from Merseyside to Cumbria throughout July and August 2019.

On November 26 2019, police officers stopped Cross’s vehicle on Park Road, just on the outskirts of Barrow.

The driver of the vehicle was Cross alongside a front seat passenger.

During a search officers recovered a SIM card later identified as the Jay Jay line.

Cross and the passenger were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Whilst in custody Cross was searched and found in possession of a Kinder Egg-style inner pod.

It was forensically tested and found to have traces for heroin and cocaine.

On the February 19, Cross was arrested in Merseyside and brought into custody in Kendal.

The arrest was made following investigators finding evidence that Cross was a key member of the gang, acting as a driver and courier of drugs between Merseyside and Barrow carrying out numerous journeys to Barrow in Furness.

Cross received payment in cash for her involvement with the organised crime group which she denied in her initial interview with detectives.

A spokesman for the South Cumbria Drugs Unit said: “This was a very sophisticated and complex inquiry that took many hours of dedicated detailed work from detective officers within the south of the county.

“Prosecuting criminals who target some of our most vulnerable members of our community by bringing illicit drugs into the area is a key priority for police and operations such as this will continue.

“We will target those at all levels of the criminality from locals who facilitate the groups to those at the upper echelons who run such enterprises and exploit others.”

Police are continuing to appeal for the public’s help in locating a man wanted in connection with this investigation.

Jack Murphy, aged 26, has links to the Cheshire and Merseyside areas as well as Barrow.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Cumbria police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.