Children as Young as 4 Vulnerable to Exploitation by ‘County Lines’ Gangs

WALSALL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06: Syringes and paraphernalia used by drug users litter an alley way in Walsall Town Centre on December 06, 2018 in Walsall, England. There were 268,390 adults in contact with drug and alcohol services in 2017 to 2018, according to a recent government report, which is …
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Around 120 vulnerable children are being monitored by police and social services in Swindon for fear they could get pulled into drug dealing, the youngest just four years old.

An additional 56 teens have been referred by the Wiltshire, south-west England, authorities suspected of being drugs runners or of stealing motorcycles and mopeds for drug trafficking gangs, reports the Swindon Advertiser.

County Lines drug gangs are exploiting vulnerable children, some who come from unstable homes, to become drug runners, trafficking or selling cocaine and heroine from urban areas and cities out to the countryside and coastal towns, authorities say.

The term ‘County Lines’ comes from the telephone line, centrally controlled by one senior drug dealer, used by people wanting drugs, with the young runners then sent to fulfil the orders.

It is believed there are some 2,000 drugs lines, some with names line “Pablo,” are operating across all forces in the country, according to The Times, as the spider’s web of networks spread from cities like London to quiet parts of England.

Local media the Harrogate Advertiser also reports this week that young people in their community are at risk of exploitation by County Line gangs, with the “big players” using children to deal drugs cross-county to avoid danger and arrest themselves.

“Worryingly, what we’ve found is that the big players don’t seem to get their hands dirty in Harrogate,” Acting Superintendent John Wilkinson told local lawmakers.

The newspaper reported one 15-year-old being questioned by police in relation to County Lines drugs dealing broke down in tears, with Spt. Wilkinson saying, “He had no real choice – which is very concerning for us.”

Harrogate, a historic and tourist town in North Yorkshire, is said to be affected by two lines from more urban, crime-ridden cities: the Bradford – Leeds – Harrogate line, and the Wolverhampton – Birmingham – Harrogate line.

Its County Lines problem made headlines in October when out of town drugs dealers Mohamed Abdi and Adirahman Shire, both from Leicester, and Julian Soares of Brixton, London, were convicted of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after they attacked three other men with knifes and acid they suspected of being rival drug dealers in 2017.

On Friday, four men were convicted for murdering a London drug dealer who set up base in Bristol, south-west England. Jordan Parker, Korrie Hassan, Leon Eaton, and Yonis Diblawe, who ran the “Joey” drug line, were found guilty of the murder of Yasin Ahmed, who had wanted to sell crack cocaine and heroin in the area.

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