Benefits Street Drugs Gang Set Up, Jury Told

Residents of TV's Benefits Street in Birmingham were running ``a drugs operation'' selling ``significant quantities'' from their doorsteps, a jury has been told.

Samora Roberts, known as Dee Roberts, is among six defendants who lived on or near James Turner Street in Birmingham, all accused of conspiring to supply crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis in the summer of 2013.

In June that year, police raided homes in the street after a surveillance operation and found ``quite significant quantities of drugs: heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis''.

Also found in a washing basket inside Roberts' terraced home was a pink shoe containing 13 bullets, while in a neighbour's home Roberts' DNA was found on a sock which contained a further five shells.

A key was found under the 33-year-old's bed which unlocked a Ford Focus parked in the street, inside of which was a bag of crack cocaine with a street value of #5,000.

She denies two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, conspiracy to supply cannabis and two further charges of illegally having ammunition.

Samantha Forsyth, opening the prosecution case at Birmingham Crown Court, told the jury: ``Essentially, this is a case about the selling of drugs.''

She explained that the ``street has gained a degree of publicity because there was a TV programme based on some of the residents who lived in that street''.

Ms Forsyth said the jury would hear evidence from police, who had carried out a 14-day surveillance operation in the road filming ``the comings and goings'' of the defendants and others ``who did not live on that street''.

She added: ``The police secretly filmed the defendants going about what we say was their unlawful business: the selling of drugs.

``Each and every one, to a lesser or greater extent, were involved in selling drugs from that street,'' said Ms Forsyth.

Addressing the jury, she said: ``You'll see the various defendants going about sometimes day-to-day ordinary business, but also what the Crown suggest are drug dealings happening in that street - the exchange of drugs, for money.''

Undercover police footage showed the defendants handling ``items and packages passed about and handed to people in the street or pulling up in cars''.

By 2.30pm on one day in May, the recording showed 10 people had entered Roberts' home for just a couple of minutes at a time before leaving.

In a lighter moment, that film showed Benefits Street personality Deirdre Kelly, known as White Dee, knocking on Roberts' door - she is not implicated in the alleged conspiracy.

Roberts appeared in the dock alongside Charlene Wilson, 31, Tina Thomas, 47, and 39-year-old Ian Wright, who all still live on James Turner Street, Winson Green.

Wright, Thomas and Wilson are accused of conspiracy to supply crack cocaine, cannabis, and heroin all between May 4 and June 15, 2013.

Thomas also denies one count of illegally possessing ammunition on June 14, 2013.

Two others; 22-year-old Omari George, of Dora Road, Handsworth, and Marvin Scott, 38, of City Road, Edgbaston, both deny three counts of conspiracy to supply crack cocaine, cannabis and heroin.

The jury heard details about what the police raids uncovered inside Roberts' home, including nine packets of cannabis, 16g of crack cocaine, a small amount of heroin and just over #500 in cash.

Equipment the Crown say is used in the preparation of drugs was also found, including five sets of scales.

Ms Forsyth said: ``You may wonder why anybody has five sets of scales - even the keenest baker wouldn't perhaps have five sets of scales.''

When arrested and searched, Roberts had #200 cash in her waistband, and a further two bags of cannabis.

She later told officers: ``You didn't even get the guy or four others involved - this makes me laugh''.

Roberts denied the crack and heroin were hers while the cash ``had come from her grandmother'', and she said she used the scales to weigh cannabis.

Ms Forsyth said Roberts ``described her house as an open house, and items such as the car keys'' were nothing to do with her.

The car was found to be insured to co-accused George.

Police raiding Scott's house found #2,000 worth of crack cocaine on top of a washing machine and #4,000 cash in a shoebox.

In the home of Wilson, who was dating Wright at the time, was found #500 in cannabis, heroin with a street value of #150, and crack cocaine inside a plastic Kinder egg container.

Officers searching Thomas' terraced house discovered #1,500 of cannabis, wrapped in bags, and inside a small pink box she owned, five bullets wrapped in a sock.

The trial continues.

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