County Lines: London drugs gang in Swansea jailed
A gang member who forced an orphan to leave London and deal heroin and crack cocaine in Swansea has been sentenced.
Convicted child rapist Jerome Tarek Wallis took the 15-year-old from his home before driving him 200 miles away to the Welsh city in July last year.
Swansea Crown Court heard the teenager was also threatened with violence and made to deliver drugs to addicts.
Wallis, 20, of Southwark, was sentenced to eight years' detention in a young offenders' institution.
He pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs as well an offence under the Modern Slavery Act.
His accomplice Savion Glenroy Browne, of Lewisham, was convicted of supplying Class A drugs following a trial and jailed for six years.
It is the first County Lines-related child trafficking conviction in Wales - and only the second in the UK.
Judge Keith Thomas said: "This was a professionally run operation with a substantial turnover of drugs and money.
"This was clearly a County Lines operation in which the roles [both of] you played were above and beyond an ordinary street dealer."
Prosecutor Catherine Richards said the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was told by Wallis, who was convicted of raping a child in 2013, that he "had no choice" in the matter.
She said: "He was told that if he did not he would come looking for him. The victim was frightened and got into a car."
The youngster, who had no idea where he was going, was driven 200 miles away to Wales before being made to live in a "crack den" as part of a County Lines network.
Mrs Richards said Wallis, who had access to a number of properties in the city, got the youngster to deliver drugs to addresses across the city.
On one occasion, the teenager was accused of being £5 short and was later told he would be "stuck working for Wallis for a year".
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However, the teenager went to Swansea Central Police Station after being left alone by Wallis - a move that was described as "incredibly brave" by detectives.
On raiding a flat in Regency House on Christina Street, Swansea, officers found Wallis and 25-year-old accomplice Browne and about £4,000 worth of drugs as well as £1,625 in cash.
The court was told that after police charged Wallis and Browne, the teenage victim received several threats. The Crown Prosecution Service said the source of the messages had not been found.
South Wales Police Det Con Victoria Bayly praised the victim's courage and bravery in securing a landmark conviction.
"Coming forward was not easy for the victim," she added.
"Gangs involved in County Lines criminality deliberately target young and vulnerable children, whom they know are easy to groom, manipulate and control. Breaking free of a gang's clutches often feels impossible to these young children.
"Even after he came forward to the police, the victim has lived in fear of reprisals and the case has had a huge impact on his life."