A DRUG dealer caught trying to ply his trade in Clacton has been jailed for seven years.

Ayo Awoyera, 22, from London, was jailed at Basildon Crown Court after being found guilty of two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drug, possession with intent to supply a Class B drug and money laundering.

The court heard how on October 11 last year officers from the Essex Police's Operation Raptor North team were patrolling Alexander Road, Clacton, when they spotted a suspicious vehicle.

They watched the car pull into Nayland Drive where it was approached by a man who appeared to be about to purchase drugs.

Awoyera, who was inside the car, was taken to a police station while the vehicle was searched.

Inside officers found two mobiles phones, a bag of cannabis hidden in the roof lining of the car and £500 in cash in the centre console.

Further analysis of the mobile phones found incriminating text messages linking Awoyera to the county drug line known as "Jamal” to the Hackney-based A Road gang and to the supply of the Class A drugs crack and heroin.

Awoyera of Amshurt Road, Hackney, was later charged, pleaded guilty to the offences and was jailed on Friday.

Det Sgt Andy Stott, of the North Operation Raptor team, said: “This is an excellent result because, despite not finding any physical Class A drugs on Awoyera we were able to prove his link to the supply of heroin and crack through evidence on the seized mobile phones.

“That evidence was significant enough to secure a lengthy sentence for Awoyera and put him where he belongs, in jail.

“I hope this demonstrates to other criminals, intent on coming to our county to deal drugs, that even without physically finding illegal substances on them we can still prove their criminality by other means, put them before the courts and succeed in getting them put behind bars.

“If you think you can come to Essex to commit drug or gang-related crime just remember Operation Raptor will be waiting.”

Essex Police set up Operation Raptor teams across the county to tackle drug and gang-related crime.

Anyone with information about drugs or gang-related crime is asked to call Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.