In the first case of its kind in the UK, two London gang members running a so-called 'county line' have been jailed for human trafficking offences, after they used a vulnerable young woman from north London to transport and sell drugs in South Wales.
Mahad Yusuf, 21 (18.12.96) of Cuckoo Hall Lane, Edmonton pleaded guilty on 5 December 2017 to trafficking a young person (a 19-year-old woman) for the purposes of exploitation under the Modern Slavery Act and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs (crack cocaine and heroin).
On Friday, 13 April, at Swansea Crown Court he was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment.
Fesal Mahamud, 20 (25.02.98) of Zambezi Drive, Enfield pleaded guilty on 5 December 2017 to trafficking a young person (a 19-year-old woman) for the purposes of exploitation under the Modern Slavery Act and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs (crack cocaine and heroin). He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Both men have also been made subject of a 20-year Slavery Trafficking Prevention Order.
Officers from the Met’s Trident and Area Crime Command used human trafficking legislation for the first time in UK legal history in a county lines case, to bring offenders to justice.
The proactive investigation, which started on 20 March 2017, focused on a London-to-Swansea 'county line' operated by members of a street gang based in Enfield.
On 25 May 2017, officers from Trident, working in conjunction with South Wales Police, identified an address in Swansea suspected of being used by the gang to supply Class A drugs.
A search warrant was carried out at the address and a 19-year-old teenager, who had previously been reported missing from her home in London, was found. The gang had lured the teenager into a car following a brief interaction on social media. She had then been driven to South Wales.
She was met by Yusuf who told her she 'belonged to him'. The woman's phone was destroyed and she was held at the address for five days, during which time she was beaten, punched in the face and forced to store Class A drugs inside her.
Detectives from Trident uncovered a large amount of evidence linking Yusuf and Mahamud to the supply of Class A drugs.
In the joint basis of plea, it was accepted that Mahamud was directing the actions of Yusuf, with Mahamud running the drugs line from London, and Yusuf acting as enforcer and ensuring drugs were delivered to Wales.
Detective Inspector Rick Sewart, of the Met's Trident and Area Crime Command who led the investigation, said: "The victim in this case suffered a horrendous ordeal at the hands of these two men, who trafficked her for their own criminal gain. She showed tremendous courage and bravery in coming forward. Her bravery has undoubtedly prevented other people from being exploited. Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of this heinous crime and sends a message that the exploitation of young people will not be tolerated.”
Detective Superintendent Tim Champion, Lead Responsible Officer for the Met's County Lines Investigations, said: "Drug supply is not new, however the exploitation of young and vulnerable people by criminal networks, to move and supply drugs across the country, takes this offending to a new level. We will prioritise these criminal networks and utilise all legislation available to disrupt their offending and safeguard those caught up in 'county lines'. These offenders are trafficking young people to maximise their profits in the drug market and the use of the Modern Slavery Act is a proportionate and necessary response."
Anyone with concerns about the exploitation of young or vulnerable individuals by criminals is asked to contact the Police, Crimestoppers, NSPCC, Childline or the Modern Slavery helpline 08000 121 700.