A GANG set up its own social media chat group to organise large scale deliveries of cannabis to East Devon and North Cornwall, a jury has been told.
The group chat on the messaging app Signal was named South Coast and some of the operation was run remotely from Spain by an ex-patriate dealer.
One of the leaders of the group had a base in Sidmouth and a courier from the seaside town made 47 differed round trips to Enfield, North London, to pick up supplies, drop off cash or both.
The cannabis was then distributed in Crediton, Ottery St Mary, Exmouth, Sidmouth, Exeter and Camelford by a network of dealers, over a period from June 2021 to September 2022, during which kilograms of cannabis were transported to the West Country.
A jury at Exeter Crown Court has been told that 11 people have admitted taking part in a 15-month conspiracy to supply cannabis and one of being concerned in supply.
Scott Bayliss, aged 44, of Albion Street, Exmouth, has denied conspiracy and is on trial.
Mr Joss Ticehurst, prosecuting, said Bayliss’s role was to be the driver on a single round trip to North London on May 30, 2022. He accepts he was the driver but says he did not know its purpose.
Mr Ticehurst said the leaders of the conspiracy were Philip Fallows, who was based in Sidmouth and London, and Jamie Chapman, who was based in Hertfordshire.
Phone messages showed they were sourcing cannabis from contacts they knew as Big J and Harry, who appeared to be based in Spain. Telephone and numberplate tracking records showed a large number of journeys to and from London.
Mr Ticehurst said: “Philip Fallows and Jamie Chapman organised the supply of cannabis from London to Devon and Cornwall and supplied it to others and sold it on to people wishing to purchase it.
“The money generated was taken back to London to pay for the drugs. Fallows and Chapman discussed matters extensively in messages which show they were sourcing the cannabis from Harry and Big J.
“They used a chat group on Signal which was called South Coast and in the discussions it is clear arrangements were made to supply cannabis to Devon and Cornwall. The members of the group were Philip Fallows, Jamie Chapman and Harry, who lived in Spain but was able to co-ordinate the supply of drugs from London to Devon.
“On June 30, 2022 Scott Bayliss travelled to London with a man called Matthew Harris. We say the purpose was to collect cannabis or to take cash back there. We say they agreed to drive to London and that Bayliss knew the trip involved cannabis and he would have been aware it was about drugs.
“One of those who has pleaded guilty is Paul Chapman who is the father of Jamie Chapman and was the regular driver between June 6, 2021 and May 16, 2022, making 47 trips.
“On May 16, 2022, he was stopped by the police on the drive of his home and as a result he was no longer able to make the trips.
“They had lost their driver and needed an alternative. We say Harris was aware that Philip Fallows was involved. There were 884 calls or messages between them. We say he arranged for Bayliss to be the alternative driver.”
The jury have been told that the 10 people who have admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis are:
Philip Fallows, aged 36, of Cotmaton Road, Sidmouth.
Jamie Chapman, aged 33, of Old North Road, Hertfordshire.
Matthew Harris, aged 55, of Albion Street, Exmouth.
George Fallows, aged 40, of Mill Street, Ottery St Mary.
Damien Carnell, aged 37, of Manstone Avenue, Sidmouth.
Paul Chapman, aged 67, of South Lawn, Sidford.
Gary Hedgeland, aged 31, of Sunny Hill, Ottery St Mary.
Jonathan Keene, aged 33, of Willow Walk, Crediton.
Tia Pryor-Howard, aged 24, of Vaughan Road, Exeter.
Matthew Topham, aged 30, of Willowbank, Camelford.
Jack Culip, aged 24, of Willowbank, Camelford.
Zoe Mardon, aged 47, of Waters Road, Salisbury, has admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
The trial continues.