A county lines gang trafficked a 15-year-old autistic schoolboy from London to Swansea to run drugs, a court has heard.

Five men have been jailed for a total of more than 40 years after texts from the boy to one of the gang were found describing how he was "broke" and hadn't eaten "since yesterday". Messages from him to the drugs line number requesting food were repeatedly ignored.

This week Kingston Crown Court in London heard how the police investigation began when an autistic 15-year-old schoolboy from north London was reported missing on September 10, 2020. Enquiries revealed he might be staying at an address in Swansea where he was running drugs for an organised crime group who controlled the ‘Gino line.’

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As the missing person investigation continued, one of the men later jailed, Ayyub Elaouzi, was arrested for an unrelated matter on September 16. During his arrest he attempted to discard a mobile phone. The Gino line was active just five minutes before he was arrested and then ceased to continue.

A day later, on September 17, Jemy Capitao, who the court heard was the line-runner, went to a newsagents in Swansea and bought two mobile phone top-up vouchers for a Nokia phone, which became the Gino 2 line. Bulk messages were sent from the phone later that night reading ‘the real Gino is back on bang bang both.’ Both refers to the crack cocaine and heroin they were selling.

On September 25 officers from South Wales Police went to a residential address in Swansea where they believed the missing teenager was, but he was not present. However, officers recovered a Nokia burner phone from within the property - which was later found to be operating the new Gino 2 line.

On the same day, officers carried out enquiries at a nearby address, which was in a poor condition, where they located the teenager. He was safeguarded and taken back to London.

Text messages uncovered on the victim’s phone by Metropolitan Police Operation Orochi officers revealed the extent of the county lines operation as well as those involved. The victim was in regular contact with Jemy Capitao and the Gino and Gino 2 lines as well as some of the other defendants.

Analysis of his phone also highlighted the mistreatment of the youngster by the gang. On September 12 he sent a message to the Gino line requesting some food before being repeatedly ignored and texting "can’t lie I’m hungry." On September 15 he sent a text to Jemy Capitao saying: “I’m broke bro, I haven’t eaten since yesterday.”

During the sentencing, held on Thursday and Friday, it was heard the gang became worried after the teenager was found by the police. Jemy Capitao went on the run with his girlfriend and stayed in a hotel in Milton Keynes where they were found by officers on October 1. Detectives found £2,910 in cash wedged into the handle of a kettle in the room. Officers also searched his home address and recovered a cash counting machine and large quantities of designer goods and high value items.

Jemy’s brother Basky Capitao, who ran the line when his brother was away, was also arrested on October 1 after officers stopped a car he was a passenger in on the M25. He was found in possession of £625 in cash as well as an iPhone and a burner phone. The court heard he played a key role in the trafficking of the teenager by arranging and facilitating his travel to south Wales.

A sixth man, Kenneth Langrish, who worked for Basky Capitao, as a driver and courier, drove the teenage victim to Swindon on the nights of September 10 and 11 for the first leg of his journey. He was arrested on October 6 and found to have 125 packages of crack cocaine hidden under his genitals. The court heard Langrish made numerous trips to South Wales so he could re-supply the Gino line with class A drugs in Swansea.

Officers executed a warrant at Harvey Kimpton’s address on October 9. He was arrested directly outside. Detectives searched the address and found a Gucci shoe box containing a loaded 22-calibre self-loading pistol and ammunition. Officers also found a Taser disguised as a torch as well as cocaine and heroin.

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Harry King was arrested on October 14 at his home address. King was based in Swindon at the time of the teenager’s trafficking. He received the victim in Swindon from Langrish before arranging and facilitating the youngster’s travel to south Wales.

Elaouzi was also arrested on October 14 for the offences linked to this investigation. The court heard that Elaouzi was holding the Gino line when the teenager was trafficked to Wales.

Following the arrest of the defendants, further enquiries were carried out by Op Orochi officers, particularly into the phones that were seized from them when they were arrested.

The gang were sentenced to the following:

Detective Constable Ben Baker, the investigating officer from Operation Orochi, said: “County lines drug dealers exploit young and vulnerable people to facilitate their drug supply. They hope that by using vulnerable children as drugs runners they will shield themselves from identification and prosecution by law enforcement. This is because, frequently, these exploited persons are too scared to assist police.

“This investigation has shown that the police are able to pursue those involved with exploiting children for drug supply, irrespective of whether a victim assists the police or not. We hope this case will discourage future gangs from using children as drugs runners by showing that it isn’t any barrier to their prosecution.”

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