In a landmark case, three gang members from London have been convicted of human trafficking offences after they used children to transport and sell drugs in Hampshire.
Six young people – three boys and three girls – were recruited by Glodi Wabelua, Dean Alford and Michael Karemera to take crack cocaine and heroin to Portsmouth in 2013/14.
The three men are thought to be the first to be charged under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 in relation to county lines.
Court hears of children’s ordeal
Inner London Crown Court was told that the victims were made to hide drugs in their body cavities and would be housed in the homes of addicts.
According to the Metropolitan Police, when one victim tried to leave, he was stripped naked and then had a gun placed in his mouth.
Wabelua was jailed for three-and-a-half years, Alford pleaded guilty to three counts of trafficking and jailed for four years and Karemera also pleaded guilty to one charge and was jailed to five years.
What are county lines?
County lines is where criminal gangs exploit children to sell drugs. The dealers will set up a drug dealing operation in a place outside their usual operating area. Gangs will shift their drugs from big cities to more rural areas. Children are often made to travel across counties, and they use mobile phone lines to supply the drugs.
Find out more
You can find out more about county lines on the National Crime Agency website.
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