Members of county lines gang who used child to carry drugs jailed for 39 years

Members of county lines gang who used child to carry drugs jailed for 39 years

A GANG who used a child to carry their drugs across county lines has been jailed for more than 39 years.

Five men have been sentenced for drug supply and modern slavery offences, including exploiting a 15-year-old child who was made to carry drugs from West London to Hampshire.

In September 2021 the boy went missing from West London, and was found at an address in Andover in Hampshire, by Metropolitan police officers.

Following a search the missing child was found in possession of wraps of crack cocaine and heroin, ready for sale and it was established the address was linked to 27-year-old Jordan Barnes, from Andover.

“The child was being exploited to act as a “runner” on a county line operating from West London to Andover, headed up by a senior gang member, 30-year-old Rhys Johnson, from Acton.” the Met Police confirms.

Rhys Johnson and Michael McDonnell (Pic: Met Police)

On further investigation officers identified that the boy travelled in a car driven by 31-year-old Michael McDonnell, accompanied by Johnson, 18-year-old Jaion Jacobs and 17-year-old Miguel Fiorenzi.

Police searched a safe house in High Wycombe, controlled by Johnson and McDonnell, and discovered large amount of Class A drugs, valued at around £40,000, a high-value Rolex watch, cash and correspondence relating to Johnson and McDonnell.

All five men were arrested, and charged with various offences including drug supply and modern slavery, and subsequently found guilty of these offences following a trial.

During the trial it was heard that the boy was groomed by Jacobs and Fiorenzi before they introduced him to Johnson for the purpose of being a drugs runner.

Jaion Jacobs and Miguel Fiorenzi (Pic: Met Police)

Johnson and McDonnell were both sentenced to over 16 years in prison on Friday, October 20.

Police Constable Tom Quinn, leading the investigation said: “We know all too well that drugs are linked to violence in our London communities and ruthless criminals exploit children or vulnerable people to help carry out their crimes.

“This investigation is an excellent example of how our Met officers have successfully dismantled an organised gang who coordinated the distribution of drugs through the exploitation of children.

“Through the hard work and diligence of our team, we managed to secure a lengthy sentence for drug supply and modern slavery offences, as well as safeguarding the victim and ensuring they receive the support needed.”

Jordan Barnes (Pic: Met Police)

Rhys Johnson, 32, of Evenlod in SL6, and Stretton Close in HP10, was sentenced to 16 years.

Michael McDonnell, 34, of Ruslip Road in Uxbridge, was sentenced to 16 years, 3 months.

Jaion Jacobs, 21, of The Square in west London was sentenced to 2 years, 6 months.

Jordan Barnes, 31, of the Hexagon in SP10 was sentenced to 2 years, 6 months.

Miguel Fiorenzi, 19, of Cleverly Estate in west London, was sentenced to two years, which was suspended.