County Lines: Two jailed for trafficking woman to sell drugs

Fesal MahamudImage copyright
Metropolitan Police

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Mahamud was captured on CCTV at London’s Paddington station on his way to south Wales

Two London gang members who trafficked a woman to Swansea before forcing her to deal heroin have been jailed.

Swansea Crown Court heard Mahad Yusuf, 21 and Fesal Mahamud, 20, contacted their victim through social media with the promise of work.

But after arriving in Wales, the vulnerable woman was held like a “prisoner”.

Yusuf, of Edmonton, and Mahamud, of Enfield, both pleaded guilty to trafficking and drug dealing.

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Yusuf and Mahamud appeared at Swansea Crown Court charged with exploitation and drugs offences

The investigation – codenamed Operation Lindvi and led by the Metropolitan Police – started in March 2017 and focused on a so-called “County Lines” operated by a London street gang.

Prosecuting counsel Caroline Rees QC said the defendants were members of the “Dem Africans” gang.

Mahamud remained in London -taking a “leading role” – while Yusuf was based in Swansea.

The court heard that while their 19-year-old victim “willingly” travelled to Wales, she had no idea what lay in store for her.

The woman was made to live in squalor at a property in Jeffreys Court, Penlan – the home had no heating or electricity.

She was also “kept like prisoner” and she felt “compelled” to hide drugs inside her body on several occasions – despite the potentially deadly consequences.

The court heard a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old were later found living at the address.

What is County Lines?

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Getty Images

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County lines are mainly used to sell crack cocaine and heroin

County Lines are organised gangs who extend their drug dealing network from big cities to other areas
They often target young people or vulnerable adults to deliver their drugs – often “grooming” them using gifts as well as using intimidation and violence
The vulnerable adults targeted are mainly Class A drug addicts but also include the elderly, those with mental or physical health impairments, women sex workers and single mothers
Gangs are also increasingly exploiting children – often boys aged 15-17 years old – to act as runners and conduct the day-to-day dealing

After being told by Yusuf that she “belonged to him”, the woman’s phone was destroyed and she was held at the address for two weeks.

Det Insp Rick Sewart, who led the investigation, described the victim’s ordeal as horrendous.

He said: “Unfortunately this case is by no means unique. Drug dealers are exploiting vulnerable people across the country via county lines.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

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The woman was taken from London to Swansea before being held against her will

The court heard while no drugs recovered, thousands of text messages sent to addicts showed that around £42,000 worth of drug deals had been carried out.

In defence the court heard how in the 1990s Mahamud’s family fled war torn Somalia seeking a better life.

Mahamud, who was born in the UK, began smoking cannabis from an early age and hung around with a “bad crowd” after his parents’ marriage ended.

Defending counsel Neil Baki said: “He is in some respect, a victim of his own circumstances.”

Yusuf also claimed to have shown “genuine remorse” for his crimes.

The Londoner, who appeared via video link from HMP Pentonville in London, was said to have not known the full-extent of the drug dealing operation.

Both men pleaded guilty to trafficking a young person for the purposes of exploitation under the Modern Slavery Act.

They also admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Mahamud was handed a 10 year custodial term, while Yusuf was handed a 9 year sentence.

Speaking after the case, Nicola Rees, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said the victim was treated like a commodity.

“She was transported to an unfamiliar location without any means of contacting her family or friends and forced to carry Class A drugs,” she added.

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