A drill rapper from south London has been jailed for seven years for selling drugs in a county lines operation.
Trigga T, real name Daniel Olaloko, 19, admitted supplying heroin and crack cocaine in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
The teenager was a member of the Silwood Nation drill group. He was a pharmacology student and had previously auditioned for ITV’s X Factor in 2016.
Peter Adebayo, 19, also received seven years, having also admitted two charges of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Drill music often features rappers talking about violence and can be used to fuel rivalries between gangs, leading critics to link it to crime.
But artists defend it as representing what is happening in their communities, as well as offering a way out for some from deprived areas.
Olaloko, who studied at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, was arrested in a dawn raid at his halls of residence in April.
When police searched his room, they found a sword, knives, four cheap mobile phones, wraps of heroin and crack cocaine and £480 in cash. There was also a Silwood Nation t-shirt.
At an earlier hearing, the 19-year-old, who grew up in Deptford and Bermondsey in south London, gave his address as “the management suite” at the halls of residence.
In a simultaneous raid in April at an address in Manchester, police arrested Adebayo.
Searching his room, officers found mobile phones used to sell drugs in Barrow. They also found quantities of drugs alongside weighing scales and mixing agents ready to be processed.
Adebayo pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiring to supply drugs in Barrow and was also sentenced to seven years in prison.
Between December and April, at least 12 people died of suspected drug overdoses in the town – which has a population of 67,000 people.
Prosecutor Jonathan Dickinson said Olaloko and Adebayo were “towards the top end of the conspiracy” to supply people in Barrow with heroin and crack cocaine.
They operated as part of a gang known as Nation, which supplied drugs from London, some 300 miles away.
The Nation – named after Olaloko’s drill rap group – are understood to have started operating in Barrow last September.
A key breakthrough for police was the arrest in March of a vulnerable 17-year-old girl from London. She was found in a flat in Egerton Court in Barrow.
X Factor audition
When she was searched, officers found 53 wraps of ready-to-sell heroin and crack cocaine had been inserted inside her.
The court was told Olaloko and Adebayo “had control” over the girl.
Joshua Adam, 24, again from London, also pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs and received a four and a half years in prison.
A 17-year-old from Manchester was sentenced to an 18-month detention and training order.
They were all sentenced at Burnley Crown Court.
Olaloko’s family described him as a quiet, studious boy. He auditioned for the X Factor talent show in 2016 but failed to make the TV auditions.
Instead, he focused on drill music, rapping about drugs, money, violence and sex in his videos.
He was described as doing well in college until his arrest – after which he was suspended immediately, the University of Central Lancashire said.
“These men operated as a sophisticated and relentless organised crime group,” said Detective Chief Inspector Nick Coughlan.
“They targeted vulnerable people to facilitate their illegal activities and they used fear and intimidation to operate their business.
“So during this operation, officers removed not just drugs from being sold on the streets, but a substantial quantity of illegal and dangerous weapons.”
Police in Barrow are struggling to cope with the changing nature of drug supply in the town.
London gangs have joined groups from Liverpool, the usual drug sellers in Barrow, in running county lines operations.
So-called county lines are when city-based dealers use children or adults to move drugs or illicit money around the country, or put up drug dealers in rural communities.
Competition is fierce and the London gangs in particular are bringing violence – and the threat of violence – including knives and guns, into the town.
Londoners ‘rule the town’
One drug user in Barrow said the Londoners now ruled the town, and that it was “easier than ever” to buy illegal drugs.
Police, working alongside the local council and charities, are planning to open a community centre next month in Egerton Court, long a magnet for drug users and sellers.
The hub will provide support and advice to residents, offering them an alternative to the pushers.
“One of the things I need to look at is how I reduce the demand for those drugs,” said Inspector Jim Bailey.
“And one of the ways to do that is to come here and work with those people who are subject to taking drugs – vulnerable, isolated – and try to tackle that.”