Criminals jailed for over 90 years following police operation targeting known 'drug dealing lines' in Sheffield

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A police operation targeting phonelines used by drug dealers and organised crime groups in Sheffield, following a rise in violence in the city, has led to 27 convictions so far.

Operation Musketeer was set up in response to what Detective Superintendent Paul Murphy describes as a ‘slight increase’ in firearms discharges in early 2021.

Det Supt Murphy, South Yorkshire Police’s force lead for firearms, said the operation was ‘predicated on the increase in violence and firearms discharges which predominantly do link to the drugs trade’.

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As part of the operation, known ‘drug dealing lines’ in Sheffield were targeted utilising a range of tactics including the use of undercover officers purporting to be drug-users who called the lines, set up drug deals and gathered intelligence about those involved.

DS Paul Murphy, at Attercliffe Police Station.DS Paul Murphy, at Attercliffe Police Station.
DS Paul Murphy, at Attercliffe Police Station.

“Operation Musketeer was instigated to target the drugs trade and we did that by targeting the drug lines used by the dealers and the organised crime groups,” said Det Supt Murphy.

A total of 27 people have been convicted, with sentences currently totalling 90 years, seven months, a figure that Det Supt Murphy ‘fully anticipates’ will increase as more of the cases of the 59 people arrested as part of the operation make their way through the courts.

Among the defendants who have been jailed as part of the operation is Joel Norman, aged 22, of Bowden Wood Avenue, Handsworth, who was sentenced to four years in custody during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court on March 10 after supplying drugs through the ‘Goldie’ line.

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He subsequently pleaded guilty to seven counts of supplying class A drug cocaine between February and May 2021 and he also admitted one count of supplying heroin from May 4, 2021.

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Det Supt Murphy said that phase of the operation, which has now come to an end, targeted ‘geographical areas where we had seen an increase in violence and violence’.

He said Sheffield city centre was the operation’s ‘epicentre,’ heading out to the South of the city, Abbeydale Road and out that way towards Park Hill and Manor and Arbourthorne’.

“It was a drawn area of where we knew the drugs trade, where organised criminals were exploiting the drugs trade which has then led to increases in violence,” added Det Supt Murphy.

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Commenting on the involvement of organised crime groups (OCGs) in Sheffield’s drug trade, Det Supt Walker said: “Criminal groups generally go to locations where they can make the most money. So inner-cities generally do suffer from gangs and crime groups targeting those inner-city locations because it’s where they see they can make the money.

“What that then inevitably does is leads to conflict because the market is lucrative to the organised criminals because they are targeting the areas where vulnerable people congregate, live or go.”

He said he did not believe OCGs are a bigger problem in Sheffield ‘than in any other inner-city’.

DS Murphy said Operation Musketeer shows that drug dealers and OCGs operating in the city ‘can’t get away with it’.

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Whatever way the organised crime groups think they can operate we adapt and can also infiltrate in any way that can also disrupt their business. We will always adapt to the changing face of criminality and target them by utilisation of many tactics, starting at neighbourhood policing level up to covert tactics."