Jail for Londoners who sold drugs in Swindon during lockdown

A pair of drug-dealing cousins from south London ordered teenagers to sell crack, heroin and cannabis in Swindon – using the same drugs line name the older cousin had used in 2012.

Yesterday, Shaun Brown, 23, and Anthony Brown, 29, were jailed for five years and two years and 10 months respectively for their role in the “Breaker” drugs line. It came years after the older man was imprisoned for five years over his role in a drugs line that used the same brand name.

Runner Alexter Tonto, just 18-years-old when he was driven from the capital to Swindon at the height of the first coronavirus lockdown, was sentenced to two years and three months’ detention in a young offenders’ institution.

Jailing the men at Swindon Crown Court in a series of sentencing hearings that lasted more than four hours, Judge Peter Crabtree said: “Anyone involved in the supply of controlled drugs – class A or B – is involved in criminality that wrecks lives and undermines the fabric of society.”

The conspiracy began on January 31, 2020, when a mobile number used as the first deal line was activated. A week and a half later, on February 9, it sent out its first bulk text to addicts in Swindon advertising drugs for sale.

Swindon Advertiser:

Anthony Brown Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Swindon Advertiser:

Shaun Brown Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Further messages were sent out from the number on February 15 and 24 and on March 8 and 10 to between 24 and 62 recipients.

Tonto was the gang’s runner, being dropped off and resupplied with drugs in Swindon by Shaun Brown, who was said to have been in control of the Breaker line phone for most of the period between January and March.

Teenager Tonto was arrested on March 11 coming out of an addict’s home in Swindon. He had tried to run from police officers but was caught. He had £320 on him and discarded nearby was 6g of cocaine and a small amount of heroin.

The day before, Shaun Brown had been arrested by police on unrelated matters and was taken to Brixton police station. The dealer phone was still active, however, this time in the hands of Shaun Brown’s cousin, Greenhithe-based Anthony Brown.

Over the day Anthony was in charge of the phone he exchanged 70 messages with Tonto.

Swindon Advertiser:

Alexter Tonto Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

The teen runner’s involvement in the conspiracy stopped upon his arrest. The original drugs line phone number was replaced too, with a new number registered in mid-March and operated predominantly by Anthony Brown to sell cannabis in Wiltshire.

Jaheim Campbell, then 17, became the gang’s new runner in Swindon. Phone evidence pointed to him being supplied with drugs by Shaun Brown and sent west. Bulk texts continued to be sent to Swindon drug users.

All three were arrested on May 6. At Shaun Brown’s flat police found £4,840 in cash, 100 wraps of heroin and 212 wraps of crack cocaine worth up to £6,300 on the street during the lockdown, when drug prices spiralled. A further £3,000-worth of cannabis was also discovered. The second drugs line phone was found beneath a duvet in Anthony Brown’s home.

Swindon Advertiser:

Drugs seized from Shaun Brown’s home in May Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Mitigation

Shaun Brown, of Elephant and Castle, Southwark, admitted conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin. Anthony Brown, of Field Road, Streatham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis and being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine on March 11. Alexter Tonto, of Cossall Walk, Southwark, admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Joanna Hardy, for Shaun Brown, said her client had recently become a father, with his daughter born on the same day he’d been arrested in March. After serving time for possession with intent to supply class A drugs in 2018 he’d struggled to find a job and had volunteered in the community. References spoke of a bright and gifted young man. “They believe he has the prospect to turn things around,” Ms Hardy said.

Ruth Becker, for Anthony Brown, said the dad-of-three was remorseful and had work at his father’s courier company. Claims made to the probation service that he had started supplying to old friends in Swindon before his customer base grew were not pursued by the barrister. He was deemed a medium risk of reoffending and a low risk of harm to others. In 2012, he was jailed for five years for running the Breaker drugs network in Swindon.

Swindon Advertiser:

Alexter Tonto outside Swindon Crown Court

Timothy Hills, representing Tonto, said his client had come over to the UK from Ghana to live with an aunt. After her death he was left homeless: “He was very vulnerable and homeless and he got caught up in the operation that was being run by the Browns.” He had not been paid, but had received food, shelter and cannabis.

The teenager was given a suspended sentence by a judge at Maidstone Crown Court in July for possession with intent to supply drugs in 2018. Since the summer he’d completed all of his unpaid work, was in close contact with the probation service and had hopes of working on the railways.

A fourth member of the group, Jaheim Campbell, 18, of Marine Street, Lambeth, will be sentenced on December 18 for his involvement in the supply of cannabis.

Swindon Advertiser | News