Eighteen deny Kettering drug dealing and child exploitation

Drugs raids

A group of 18 people arrested in three days of police raids have denied drug dealing and child exploitation charges.

Police carried out raids in Kettering, Northamptonshire in June which were "months in the planning".

The 14 men and four women, aged between 19 and 58, from London and Kettering, appeared over two days at Northampton Crown Court.

The 18 were remanded in custody and will appear again at the court in September and October for a review.

Police raids were also carried out in London, where Northamptonshire Police were supported by the Metropolitan Police.

'Stretched resources'

All of the group are charged with conspiracy to sell heroin and crack cocaine.

Ten of them are also charged with conspiring to arrange or facilitate persons under 18 with a view to their exploitation.

One person is charged with the possession of an offensive weapon and refusing to disclose a mobile phone password in a police investigation.

A nineteenth defendant - a man also charged with the two drug dealing offences - did not enter pleas.

Due to the number of defendants the court was told there would have to be two trials, both possibly lasting up to eight weeks.

Prosecutor Gareth Weetman said there was concern the trials would not happen before Christmas due the court's "stretched resources".

Judge Adrienne Lucking said she wanted all defendants in court for any trial because of difficulties with the court's video link.

A trial date has not been set.

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