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Ten members of a drugs gang have been sentenced to a total of 39 years and 6 months in prison.
Eight defendants were jailed at Caernarfon Crown Court today for numerous offences, including human trafficking and supplying heroin and cocaine.
Details of all those involved are listed below along with their respective sentences.
At the centre of their offending was a 14-year-old child, missing from his home area, who was trafficked across the North West before being left in Rhyl, an area which he had no connection to. The child is now being safeguarded.
Superintendent Simon Williams, Head of the Protection of Vulnerable People Unit, said: “This case marked a significant change in our approach in that the child dealing drugs on behalf of the group was treated as a victim, not a criminal, as it was clear he was being exploited and at risk. The other major difference is that some of the group were not only charged with drugs offences, but with human trafficking, which came as a surprise to them.
“This vulnerable child was trafficked across the North West, he was at the behest of these criminals, dealing drugs on their behalf. The risks and exploitation were massive.
“Our message to those who use children in this way is that we, along with partners, will relentlessly pursue you and bring you to justice, even if, as in this case, we haven’t got a victim willing to stand up in court. We will focus on all opportunities to gather evidence from all available sources.
“To young people caught up in County Lines and their parents or carers, our priority is to safeguard children and to pursue those who exploit them. I appreciate that it can be a difficult step to disentangle from the situation, but you should be confident that we will support and safeguard you.
“Modern slavery and trafficking happens in plain sight, impacting on the most vulnerable. It could be happening on your street, learn to know the signs, the public are key to helping identify this criminality.
“My hope is that those involved in offending of this kind think again about what they’re doing. This case highlights the approach that we will continue to take to successfully prosecute those who engage in such exploitation and provides a blueprint for prosecution and the managing of offenders after release via associated orders.”