THE POLICE believe they are winning the battle to rid Bodmin of heroin dealers after another drug courier from the town was behind bars this week.
Lee Brislen was jailed at Exeter Crown Court on Friday after he was caught with heroin valued at £50,000 obtained from suppliers in Liverpool.
Inspector Robin Hogg, from Bodmin police, said Brislen's imprisonment, the jailing earlier this year of five members of a local family for their part in trafficking £1 million of heroin, plus other drug arrests in recent months, had made Bodmin a safer place to live.
Brislen had agreed to bring a large consignment of heroin and cannabis to Bodmin to pay off his own drug debts but was caught by traffic police on the M5 near Cullompton.
The officers searched his car after detecting a strong smell of cannabis and found a quarter kilo of home-grown drugs hidden in a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner in the boot. They later found the heroin hidden in a sock inside a door panel.
Brislen, 25, was bailed but went straight back to his home in Bodmin and started heroin-dealing to try to pay back the suppliers for the consignment he had lost, Exeter Crown Court was told.
His home was raided just four days later and he was found trying to hide pre-wrapped heroin deals in his underwear.
Brislen, of Margaret Terrace, Bodmin, admitted two offences of possession with intent to supply heroin and one of cannabis and was jailed for a total of four years and eight months.
Recorder Mr James Townsend told him he had chosen to become involved in the commercial distribution chain and continued to act as a street dealer even after he was arrested for acting as a courier.
Brislen's former partner Holly Braithwaite, 35, of Rhind Street, Bodmin, was cleared of her part in the operation by a jury at Exeter earlier in the week after telling a jury she did not know about the drugs hidden in her car.
Nigel Wraith, for the prosecution, said Brislen persuaded the driver to take him with her on a trip to the North West and then obtained the drugs which police found in the Citroen when it was stopped on the M5 in February.
The cannabis was divided into nine bags, weighed about a quarter of a kilo and was worth around £2,500. The heroin weighed almost half a kilo and was worth around £50,000. He said officers raided Brislen's home in Bodmin four days later and recovered seven small wraps of heroin after seeing him fiddling with the waistband of his trousers.
Beth Heaton, for the defence, said Brislen moved to Cornwall from his home in Liverpool to escape his drug debts but dealers had caught up with him and bullied him into working for them.
When he was stopped and the heroin and cannabis were seized, he was then pressured into street dealing to pay off his debt, she said.
Mr Hogg said the jailing of Brislen sent another message to drug dealers in Bodmin that their activities would not be tolerated.
"It has shown that the tactics we have put in place to combat heroin and other drug misuse in the town is working, and we are dealing a significant blow to people in Bodmin who trade in drugs," said the officer.
"Very recent raids and those carried out in Operation Minnis, (which was centred on Bodmin) have had a significant effect and it has made a real difference to the level of drug dealing in the town."
Brislen and the five members of the Wood family from Bodmin, who were jailed in April of this year for heroin trafficking, both obtained the drugs from organised crime gangs based in Liverpool.
Mr Hogg said Devon and Cornwall Police were working closely with other police forces and law enforcement agencies to disrupt the supply from Liverpool and other major cities.