A nationwide police investigation focused on county lines drug gangs that prey on vulnerable youngsters rescued a 16-year-old who had gone missing from Croydon, and this week saw prison sentences totalling 14 years handed down to four men.
The investigation was carried out by officers from Op Orochi, the Met’s specialist team dedicated to tackling high-harm offenders involved in county lines drugs supply.
The teenager was found in Dundee last November; they did not face prosecution but according to the Met “have been referred to children’s services from respective local authorities and the national referral mechanism”.
Officers located the teenager in Dundee two days after he was reported missing, when a joint operation with Police Scotland led to a swoop on a couple of addresses.
Detective Constable Jamie Helps said: “Op Orochi has no borders and we will work relentlessly with our colleagues across the UK to bring you to justice.
“Drugs devastate communities and destroy lives, but these men did not care about this as long as they made money. The public may believe that county lines does not have a wider impact on communities, but the consequences of this type of criminality should not be underestimated.”
The investigation began on November 14, 2022, after local officers raised their concerns about the missing child to the Operation Orochi team.
Enquiries uncovered that the child had travelled from Croydon to Dundee on November 7. It was then discovered that the four county lines suspects – Malik Paul, Michael Nwadire, Dylan Newman and Ellis Davey – had also travelled to Dundee around the same time.
Officers from Op Orochi deployed to Dundee, working with Police Scotland’s Serious and Organised Crime Team.
According to the Met, “On 16 November 2022, Davey was arrested on Strathmartine Road, Dundee. He was found in possession of 100 wraps of crack cocaine and heroin.
“Whilst being arrested, Davey began shouting to alert Newman who was in a nearby address. The secondary address on Strathmartine Road was identified and Newman was arrested in possession of an active Class A drugs line.”
It was here that the missing 16-year-old was found, the gang having “cuckooed” their address. “Police also seized knives and class A drugs from the address.
“These arrests and further telecommunication data lead officers to an address on Monifieth Road, Dundee. Both Paul and Nwadire were located and arrested. Paul attempted to evade police by climbing out of the window.
“Further weapons and money were recovered from the address. The phones found during the course of the investigation showed that Paul was the head of the group. He directed the other men and had conducted extensive research on Dundee before travelling there.”
Detective Inspector Scott Carswell of Police Scotland’s Serious and Organised Crime Team, said: “Human trafficking is a despicable crime.
“These types of crimes have a long-term impact on the victims and we are committed to working to identify those responsible and help protect the victims.”
At Woolwich Crown Court this week:
- Malik Paul, 26, of Dynevor Road, Hackney, was sentenced to five years and four months imprisonment.
- Michael Nwadire, 28, of Balmore Crescent, Barnet, was sentenced to three years.
- Dylan Newman, 21, of no fixed address, was sentenced to three years.
- Ellis Davey, 22, of Springfield Avenue, Merton was sentenced to three years.
Paul and Nwadire had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin. Davey and Newman also pleaded guilty.
Operation Orochi say that they have rescued 33 children from county lines gangs since April last year, charging 31 individuals with modern slavery offences.
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