Two London gang members running a so-called ‘county line’ have been convicted of human trafficking offences in a case described by police as the first of its kind in the UK.
Mahad Yusuf and Fesal Mahamud used used a vulnerable 19-year-old woman from north London to transport and sell drugs in South Wales.
Yusuf, 20 and of Edmonton, and Mahamud 19 and of Enfield both pleaded guilty to trafficking a young person for the purposes of exploitation under the Modern Slavery Act.
The pair also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. They will be sentenced onJanuary 4 2018.
The investigation - codenamed Operation Lindvi - involved officers from the Met’s Trident and Area Crime Command using human trafficking legislation to bring Yusuf and Mahamud to justice.
The investigation, which started on Monday March 20, focused on a London to Swansea ‘county line’ operated by members of a north London street gang.
On Thursday May 25, 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 woman from London, who had previously been reported missing and was described by police as vulnerable, was found.
As a result of detailed analysis of social media conversations, Trident officers learned how the gang had lured the teenage woman into a car following a brief social media interaction and then driven her 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 forced to store Class A drugs against her will.
Through detailed analysis of Yusuf and Mahamud’s mobile phone records, Met detectives uncovered a large volume of evidence linking them to the supply of Class A drugs.
In the joint basis of plea, it was accepted that Mahamud was directing the actions of Yusuf.
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. Unfortunately this case is by no means unique. Drug dealers are exploiting vulnerable people across the country via county lines. This prosecution is a clear message to any drug dealer that if you exploit young people we will find you, bring you to justice and you will feel the full force of the law."
Detective Superintendent Tim Champion, Lead Responsible Officer for the Met's County Lines Investigations, said: “Drug supply is not new, however the exploitation of vulnerable young people by criminal networks, to move and supply drugs across the country, takes this offending to a new level. We will prioritise those criminal networks that exploit young persons 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 use of the Modern Slavery Act is a proportionate and necessary response.”