A PLUMSTEAD drug network led by a 19-year-old who directed operations from his gran's council flat has been smashed after 14 people were jailed for a total of 30 years.

Officers from the borough's Violent and Organised Crime Unit (VOCU) arrested the men following Operation Fisheagle last summer, which targeted crack and heroin dealers in Plumstead High Street.

Tip-offs had suggested some dealers - earning up to £15,000 per day in sales - had resorted to violence to protect their market and stop rivals from selling drugs on their turf. Crack pipes and faeces were strewn in the streets and stairwells where deals were conducted.

Police say ringleader Ahmed Karshe, aged 19, who lived at his grandmother's council flat in Kingsman Street, Woolwich, had boasted he would never be caught, arranging for teenagers to deal the illegal substances while he stayed safely behind the scenes.

But last September, police executed 16 search warrants across London and in Maidstone, resulting in a string of and charges over conspiracy to supply class A drugs and heroin.

Thirteen of the men pleaded guilty to the charges, but Karshe denied the charge and was jailed for seven-and-a-half years at Woolwich Crown Court on July 5 after being convicted.

Assistant Liban Ahmed, aged 31, of Manthorpe Road, Plumstead, who was also convicted, plus Anthony Ndungu, aged 19, of Bexley Road, Eltham, and 20-year-old John Abodunrin, of Barnfield Gardens, Plumstead, were each sentenced to three-and-a-half years.

Levy Revardeau, aged 20, of no fixed abode, was jailed for three years, while Alfred Quartey, aged 20, of no fixed abode, and 18-year-old George Watson, of Tynemouth Road, Plumstead, both received four-and-a-half year sentences.

A further seven youths, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were given Youth Referral Orders ranging between 12 and 18 months. One more will be sentenced at a later date.

Greenwich police Detective Chief Inspector Mike Balcombe said: "Karshe considered himself too clever to be caught and indeed boasted to officers that this was the case. He did not supply drugs and left the work, together with the risk of getting caught, to juveniles.

"He also used his grandmother’s flat in Kingsman Street, a council property which has since been repossessed, to manufacture crack cocaine. It was Karshe’s network of drug dealers that brought misery to those who were affected by the antisocial behaviour that came with it."

He added: "We know that a small number of young people are offered new shoes and clothes together with a couple of hundred pounds to carry out drug deals and run the risk of getting caught. No amount of easy cash or clothes can ever compensate for a criminal record and years behind bars.

"I would personally appeal to young people and ask them to think twice before they get involved with gangs and drugs; if you are in it and want a way out, speak to us, or another trusted adult such as a social worker or youth worker and we will help you. If you are thinking of getting involved, think again - you will compromise your future unnecessarily".

The VOCU is funded by Greenwich Council. Anyone with information on drug dealing should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.