Two Harrogate drug dealers jailed for a combined total of four years

Two cocky drug dealers who bragged they were making so much money they would soon need a “counting machine” have been jailed for a combined four years.

By Court Reporter
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 2:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 2:41 pm

Sirus Alexander, 21, and Robert Varela, 26, immersed themselves in the “dark world” of the Harrogate narcotics trade in which money and hard drugs were so easy to come by that they treated four-figure profits as “minor” financial gains, York Crown Court heard.

They were finally nailed thanks to eagle-eyed security staff and Harrogate Borough Council’s CCTV operators who spotted them engaging in a shady transaction in a red Audi with two “unknown men” behind an Early Learning Centre in the town centre, said prosecutor Michael Cahill.

Alexander and Varela scuttled off to a nearby Travelodge where they stashed over 60 wraps of heroin and cocaine in their room.

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Two cocky drug dealers who bragged they were making so much money they would soon need a “counting machine” have been jailed for a combined four years

Police turned up at the hotel just after midnight, but Alexander and Varela had vanished.

A search of the room revealed a major cocaine and heroin stash worth about £2,575 - as well as a machete and digital weighing scales.

At about 4am the following morning, police received another call from CCTV operators who spotted the pair going into Asda in the town centre.

Officers swooped on the supermarket and arrested the two men.

Varela was found with a large hunting knife in his jacket and about £300 cash. Alexander threw his mobile phone underneath a car just before his arrest.

Varela - formerly of Harrogate but lately of Bradford - and Alexander, from Elland, each admitted two counts of supplying a Class A drug with intent to supply.

Varela also admitted carrying a blade.

They appeared for sentence on Tuesday but only Varela was in the dock.

Alexander appeared via video link from Hull Prison where he is currently serving a 10-year jail sentence for robbery and wounding following a stabbing incident in Harrogate just two months after he was arrested for the drug offences.

Mr Cahill said that security guards at the Early Learning Centre spotted the pair and the two unidentified men on the afternoon of April 23, 2019 in what was patently a drug transaction.

Alexander’s phone showed he had been dealing since 2017.

It appeared that Varela had only been dealing in the days before his arrest.

In one of the messages on their phones, they bragged that £1,200 – the “going rate” for an ounce of cocaine” – was a “minor” amount and that “we can smash this thing and that 46 (drug wraps) went in one hour”.

In another exchange, they boasted that they were “making so much money we are (going to) need a counting machine”.

Both men had previous convictions but it was Alexander whose criminal record was the most “worrying”.

He had previous convictions for violence, possessing a knife, racially aggravated harassment and vehicle theft, and one for administering poison in 2016, when he laced someone’s drink with bleach.

By far the most serious of his 26 previous offences was the incident in June 2019 when he robbed three men at knifepoint in Harrogate town centre while wearing a skull mask.

Alexander stabbed two of the victims in the thigh with a carving knife after ambushing them in Harrogate town centre.

He told the “terrified” men they were “going to die” and ordered them to empty their pockets.

Alexander, who was a heavy cocaine user and fan of violent video games, was jailed for 10 years and nine months in February 2020 after he admitted two counts of robbery and two of wounding with intent.

The victims had been making their way home from a night out when Alexander pounced near the Asda store on the corner of Mayfield Grove and Strawberry Lane.

He took some cash, tobacco and a rucksack containing items including a mobile phone after slashing out with the large kitchen knife.

The victims suffered “gaping” wounds and deep psychological harm.

Harry Crowson, for Alexander, said his client still had another three years to serve of the 10-year jail sentence for the robberies.

He said that Alexander, who had spent his entire childhood in care, had been exploited by County Lines drug bosses following a traumatic upbringing.

Christopher Haddock, for Varela, said his client had started dealing to feed his “expensive” drug habit and pay off debts to his suppliers.

He said that in October last year, Varela was hospitalised after his drug overlords “branded” him with a hot knife.

Varela refused to disclose the identity of these men.

Judge Simon Hickey told the defendants: “You know dealing in Class A drugs on our streets brings misery, degradation and death.

"You were both effectively street dealers in the middle of Harrogate.”

Alexander, of The Grove, Idle, was jailed for two years.

He will serve half of that sentence behind bars, consecutive to the jail term he is already serving.

Varela, of Huddersfield Road, Elland, was jailed for two years and three months.