A London drug gang sent two men described as ‘pawns’ in a County Lines operation to Swansea in order to peddle drugs on the streets.
Swansea Crown Court heard how Kai Williams and Muzammel Amiri both ran up debts with the gang concerning cannabis, and were sent to south Wales to clear that debt.
In April last year, both men arrived in the city and set up base at a home in Carmarthen Road in a ‘cuckooing’ operation, the court heard, which is defined as when drug dealers take over the home of a person in order to use it as a base for drug dealing.
They distributed drugs around Swansea and made significant sums of money, and when arrested by South Wales Police for the crime on April 24, they were found in possession of more than £2,000.
Police found clear evidence of drug supply at the property, including phones, more cash, and a cannabis grinder.
And there was further evidence within a hire car Mercedes they had outside, where notes of paper with names and numbers on it were found.
Within the phones, police uncovered a schedule of text messages relating to drug deals.
Williams, 20, of Chichele Road in London and Amiri, 22, of Broomgrove Gardens, Edgware in Harrow, both made ‘no comment’ interviews to police.
Both men appeared at Swansea Crown Court having pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis between April 18 and 25.
County Lines explained…
Judge Jones, sentencing the men via video link from Merthyr Crown Court, said: “I don’t think for one minute they are criminal masterminds. This is a typical County Lines case where they have been told what to do.”
Mitigating on behalf of Williams, Tom Flavin said: “He is a cannabis user who ran up a debt of £400. He was told to go to Swansea as that was a way of satisfying that debt.
“His family say he was a very happy, hard working man who then went missing after getting involved in cannabis.
“This was the first time he had ever been to Swansea. He was there for a few days to work off his debt with drug dealers.
“His vulnerability was exploited. There is some reason behind his reluctance to admit his involvement and that comes from fear. He is fully aware of the circumstances.
“During his time in custody he has managed to keep a positive lifestyle and is terrified at the prospect of having longer to serve.
“He is someone who is striving to better himself in the future.
“His root cause of all this is cannabis use, but he has not been using it since his time in custody.”
Representing Amiri, James McKenna said: “There is clear remorse. He is an intelligent man and understands the position he finds himself in.
“The circumstances relating to Mr Amiri is that he was in the University of Southampton studying biomedical science and that’s where he was introduced to cannabis.
“He had a propensity to use more and more of it. In university, a roommate committed suicide by hanging himself and that had a detrimental affect on his mental health, his studying slipped and he removed himself from the course.
“He became a recluse and concerned himself more and more with cannabis. His debt was £1,500 and was not able to pay that which led him to making the stark decision – what is the alternative to not accepting the request of an Albanian gang in the London area. He made the foolish decision to undertake the trip to Swansea.”
Sentencing the pair, Judge Jones said: “I have some empathy with the situation they are in.
“This was a Cuckoo operation where you were both under duress and coerced. You were pawns in a much bigger operation.
“It’s clear to me both individuals were out of their depth. You are both young men from good families who previously excelled in the community.
“You were pawns in a County Lines operation, but at the end of the day you had the option to say no, but you didn’t.”
Both men were sentenced to 42 months imprisonment.