"A large quantity of crack cocaine and heroin was recovered."
Six members of a county lines gang have been jailed for a total of 39 years for supplying drugs in Bournemouth, using two children to run their operation.
The drug supply was controlled in and around London and Birmingham, and supplied in Bournemouth.
The investigation began on July 3, 2022, after a 16-year-old boy from Farnborough was arrested in Bournemouth for being in possession of a large quantity of crack cocaine and heroin.
After his arrest, a mobile phone was seized.
He was released under investigation while support mechanisms were being put in place to safeguard him.
A Met Police spokesperson said:
“This investigation was then referred to the Met’s Op Orochi team due to concerns of the child being used by a county lines gang to supply drugs in Bournemouth.
“Detectives carried out extensive analysis of communications data of key contacts between the offenders, mobile phone downloads including social media conversations between them.”
Officers also analysed hours of CCTV, looking at a hotel in Bournemouth.
Adam Sheikh, Saad Nur, Hafsa Khan and Sarina Duggal were identified as controlling the ‘Hustle’ county drug line which operated within Bournemouth.
The 16-year-old had been working for them.
The spokesperson continued: “It was later established the ‘Hustle’ line was back up and running, again supplying crack cocaine and heroin within Bournemouth.
“On 21 September 2022, officers from Op Orochi deployed to the Bournemouth area to target this activity.
“Whilst in Bournemouth, officers arrested Kitchener and Mendes.
“A large quantity of crack cocaine and heroin was recovered. Additionally, another 16-year-old missing boy from Warwickshire was located within a flat in the Boscombe area of Bournemouth.
“The following day, 22 September 2022, a warrant was executed in Birmingham resulting in the arrest of the line holders.
“A large quantity of drugs was located within the flat, along with the handsets used to direct the ‘Hustle’ drug line.”
“A fingerprint of Khan was later identified on some of the drug packaging.
“Since Orochi was incepted in November 2019, we have worked in partnership with 26 county forces to target and close county lines, bringing offenders to justice.
“This criminal gang were exploiting two children, both missing from London, to run their County Line from London to Bournemouth and in doing so, placed them at the forefront of the supply chain, exposed to the most risk, whilst they harnessed the profits.
“By bringing charges of modern slavery and drug supply, irrespective of the victim’s engagement, we are able to prosecute the full extent of this criminality and send a strong message to dissuade criminal gangs from using children to sell their drugs.
“The teenagers were not prosecuted and were safeguarded and instead, referred to Children’s Services from respective local authorities and the Single Competent Authority/National Referral Mechanism.
“Since 1 April 2022 Orochi, working closely with Rescue and Response, have conducted 23 operations, rescuing 33 children from County Lines and charged 31 individuals with modern slavery offences.”
Hafsa Khan, aged 23, of West Drayton, was jailed for six years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Feliciano Mendes, aged 19, of Stratford, London, was jailed for two years after being found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Lee Kitchener, aged 20, of Penge, London, was jailed for four years and six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply crack cocaine/heroin and possession with intent to supply crack cocaine/heroin.
Adam Sheikh, aged 24, of no fixed address, was jailed for 12 years.
Sarina Duggal, aged 28, of no fixed address, was jailed for seven years.
Both were found guilty of facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Saad Nur, aged 26, of Birmingham, was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Detective Constable Jack Jeffries, from Met’s Op Orochi, said:
“This investigation resulted in the closure of a significant county drug line supplying crack cocaine and heroin onto the streets of Bournemouth causing misery to local residents.
In addition, two missing children from separate parts of the country were safeguarded at different times allowing appropriate support and diversion mechanisms to be put in place to help prevent them from being involved in county lines activity in the future.
“The sentences handed down today to this group demonstrates how seriously the courts take this offending and we will continue to use all available resources to combat this activity.”