UNDERCOVER police posed as ‘rogue’ market traders to catch drug dealers in Burnley, a court was told.
Detectives set up a bedding stall on the town’s market and sold sportwear from the back of a van on the Burnley Wood estate.
Burnley Crown Court was told officers soon became friendly with 29-year-old Carl Bond.
Bond, from Reed Street, initially bought a pair of trainers from the two ‘traders’ and gave them his mobile phone number.
Prosecutor Sarah Statham said the officers talked to Bond about cannabis and he told them he was due to receive around 170 plants.
He offered to sell them some, initially wanting around £2 for a smaller cannabis plant and £5 for a larger specimen.
Bond even told the officers that one of his previous crops had been lost in a police raid, the court heard.
Miss Statham said the undercover officers went to Bond’s home and bought three plants for £30 and he gave them advice about growing cannabis, along with some fertiliser.
Bond would go on to supply the officers with £20 bags of cannabis on four other occasions through November and December.
Later the officers asked Bond for an ounce of ‘blue cheese’ cannabis.
He said he could not supply that but offered them some of his own stash for £160.
The officers declined and just bought another £20 bag.
The undercover officers had no further contact with Bond but did receive a text from him offering to supply some ‘sick green’ cannabis.
Joanne Rodikis, defending, said: “There was temptation put in Mr Bond’s way but he did not go out looking for opportunities to sell the drug.”
Bond believed he was dealing with fellow drug users at the time and he had smoked cannabis with the officers, she told the court.
The profits from drug dealing did not fund an ‘extravagant’ lifestyle but paid for groceries for himself, his partner and their young baby, she added.
Bond admitted one charge of offering to supply cannabis and five offences of supplying cannabis.
He was jailed for 14 months by Judge Robert Altham.
Miss Statham said that a number of youths had already been dealt with by the juveniles courts in relation to Operation Loreley.
Two other Burnley Wood men, Eric Halson and Joshua Bonney, who set up their Springfield Road home as a ‘burglars bazaar’ were jailed for 45 months each, as part of the same crackdown.
The pair raided homes across Burnley, Rossendale and Todmorden and sold on burgled goods from the property But they were caught out when they sold stolen cars to undercover police.
The operation, from September 2010 to April 2011 saw 56 arrests and 35 people charged with 178 offences.
Twelve more are awaiting decisions on whether they are charged.
More than 140 of the 524 items of stolen property seized have been returned to their owners.
Det Sgt Pauline Tyrell said while the operation initially focused on prolific burglars it had also uncovered drug-dealing.
She added: “The operation has also highlighted how close the link is between serious acquisitive crime and the use and supply of illegal drugs, particularly cannabis.
“It should be emphasised that people who supply such substances contribute to the chain of events which lead to victims of such crimes, and as such we are pleased with today’s result.”