Two members of a County Lines drugs network who travelled from the Midlands to sell their wares in the North East have been given a chance to turn their lives around.

Pumlani Musa and Ricardo Carvalho were bullied and cajoled into travelling to Darlington to sell cocaine and heroin after being roped in by more sophisticated drug dealers.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the pair were arrested after they sold the class A drugs to an undercover police officer posing as an addict called ‘John’.

Robert Mochrie, prosecuting, said the officer contacted the drug dealers on their ‘ghost line’ on 14 occasions over a five-week period.

He said: “Both had used the same phone on a number of occasions which John had used to contact them – it was County Lines handset.”

The court heard how the undercover officer bought ten wraps of cocaine and three wraps of heroin from the drug dealers.

Mr Mochrie said the pair had also been under investigation for similar offences in the South Wales region.

Musa, 24, of Clifford Street, Birmingham, and 25-year-old Carvalho, of Nansen Street, Saltley, Birmingham, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs between March 3, 2019, and April 11, 2019.

Julian Bailey, representing Musa, said: “He was targeted by drug suppliers to do their dirty work for them.

“A lot of people have been in a position to say no but not him. Throughout his entire life he has been bullied and until recently, a lack of self-worth was used against him.”

Mr Bailey said Musa is now studying at university with the ambition of becoming a surveyor.

While Seamran Sidhu, representing Carvalho, said the circumstances surrounding her client’s involvement in the drugs network was the same as his co-accused.

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She said he was now working in property maintenance and managed to extract himself from the control of the County Lines gang.

Judge Christopher Smith told the pair that he was taking the unusual step of not sending them immediately to prison due to the length of time it had been hanging over them.

“The two of you were put to work peddling controlled drugs to street users in Darlington,” he said. “It was long time ago for both of you. You were around 18-19 at the time and you were both a long way from home.”

They were both given 23-month sentences suspended for two years and ordered to attend 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.