Image above: Library image
Drug gang exploited 15-year-old boy to carry drugs from west London to Hampshire
Five men have been sentenced for drug supply and modern slavery offences, after they were found guilty of exploiting a 15-year-old child, using him to carry drugs from west London to Hampshire.
In September 2021 the boy went missing from west London and was found at an address in Andover, Hampshire, by Metropolitan police officers.
The missing child was found in possession of wraps of crack cocaine and heroin ready for sale, and it was established that the address was linked to 27-year-old Jordan Barnes, from Andover.
The child was being exploited to act as a “runner” on a ‘county line’ operating from west London to Andover, headed up by a senior gang member, 30-year-old Rhys Johnson, from Acton.
Investigating officers found the boy had travelled in a car driven by 31-year-old Michael Mcdonnell, accompanied by Johnson, 18-year-old Jaion Jacobs and 17-year-old Miguel Fiorenzi.
Police searched a safe house in High Wycombe and discovered large amount of Class A drugs, valued at around £40,000, a high-value Rolex watch, cash and correspondence relating to Johnson and Mcdonnell.
All five men were arrested, and charged with various offences including drug supply and modern slavery, and subsequently found guilty of these offences following a trial. During the trial the court heard the boy had been groomed by Jacobs and Fiorenzi before they introduced him to Johnson for the purpose of being a drugs runner.
Johnson and Mcdonnell were both sentenced to over 16 years in prison on Friday 20 October.
Arrests part of wider county lines drug dealing operations in London
Police Constable Tom Quinn, leading the investigation said:
“We know all too well that drugs are linked to violence in our London communities and ruthless criminals exploit children or vulnerable people to help carry out their crimes.
“This investigation is an excellent example of how our Met officers have successfully dismantled an organised gang who coordinated the distribution of drugs through the exploitation of children.
“Through the hard work and diligence of our team, we managed to secure a lengthy sentence for drug supply and modern slavery offences, as well as safeguarding the victim and ensuring they receive the support needed.”
The sentences came after the Met announced the results of a week of action to tackle county lines drug dealing which resulted in more than 290 arrests, 110 people safeguarded, the seizure of 16.9kg worth of suspected drugs and the closure of 92 drug lines.
Images above: Mugshots of the drug gang from left to right – Jordan Barnes, Jaion Jacobs, Miguel Fiorenzi, Michael McDonnell and Rhys Johnson
Rhys Johnson (32) from High Wycombe and Michael Mcdonnell (33) from Greenford were both sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine and for arranging or facilitating the travel of a minor with a view to his exploitation.
Jaion Jacobs (20) from Hammersmith and Jordan Barnes (31) from Andover were sentenced to two-and-a-half years imprisonment. Both were found guilty of for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine. Jacobs was also found guilty of arranging or facilitating the travel of a minor with a view to his exploitation.
Miguel Fiorenzi (19) from Shepherd’s Bush, was sentenced to two years, suspended, having been found guilty of all three charges.
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