Chyna Crew gang in Exeter
Members of the Chyna Crew gang seized control of the city's drug operations through violence and rape

A drugs gang swapped the gritty inner city of Birmingham for the affluent and provincial setting of Exeter because the cathedral city was a "gold mine" for cocaine and heroin dealers. Members of the Chyna Crew left England's second city and travelled down the M5 to rural Devon to establish a violent grip on the drugs trade in the university town.

The gang used a method described in court this week as "cuckooing", which involved forcing a vulnerable person - often drug addicts - to give up their home for the criminals to use it as their base in the city. Once they were in Exeter the gang went on a rampage of violence and rape to assert control over the local drug market leading to the fatal stabbing in February of suspected rival Joseph Kelly.

Exeter Crown Court heard how a 28-year-old woman was raped by all three men whilst being held at knifepoint, slapped, ordered to kiss their feet, drink toilet water, and address them as "King Chyna".

They also told the woman, whom they recognised from a rival gang, that they would "pimp her out" after she was kidnapped.

In a separate incident, the court heard how the gang believed one of their associates, 22-year-old Amber Olivia, was being held by a rival operation so stormed the home.

The trio blasted the door of a suspected rival dealer's home with a shotgun and stabbed a man also believed to have been dealing heroin in the city.

A third attack was on a rival dealer who was stabbed from behind outside a pub, with wounds to his chest, legs and buttocks, the court heard.

Abdirahman Abukar, aged 19, of Alum Rock Road, Birmingham, was sentenced to 23 years, Abdirahman Kadir, 21, of no fixed address, was sentenced to 23 years and Ibrahim Mohammed, 18, was sentenced to 15 years in prison at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday 22 August.

Their drugs runner, Amber Olivia, 22, was sentenced yesterday on Wednesday (23 August) to three and a half years in prison for supply of Class A drugs. Liverpool man Ryan Carney, 25, was also jailed for his role in the operation after boasting Exeter was a "gold mine".

Sentencing Carney, judge Graham Cottle suggested surprise the operation made its way to Devon. "What were you doing in Exeter? You came here to deal in drugs and described Exeter as a gold mine when it comes to drug dealing."

Detective inspector Tanya Youngs, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "This was an intensive and fast moving investigation that led officers to Wales where three of the four offenders were arrested and I would like to thank the team who have worked tirelessly gathering evidence as well as supporting and safeguarding those affected.

"I would also like to reassure the public that violent gang related behaviour and the use of firearms remains extremely rare in Exeter and Devon and Cornwall as a whole. However as a force we are trained and equipped to deal with incidents of this nature if they arise and as in this case will work very hard to ensure justice is served and the public are kept safe."