Two men charged with modern slavery offences following County Lines investigation
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Two men have been charged with Modern Slavery offences after they were arrested in Kent for allegedly using a 16-year-old boy to deal drugs.
Following an investigation, Javarni McPherson, 21, of Peckham Park Road in London, and Trevis Abiola, 21, of High Street in Orpington, were arrested with the support of Kent Police in Canterbury on Wednesday 1 July.
They were both charged with Human Trafficking, concerned in the supply of cocaine and concerned in the supply of heroin.
McPherson was also charged with driving while under the influence of drugs.
They have both pleaded not guilty to the offences at Medway Magistrates Court and are now due to appear at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday 31 July.
It is the first Modern Slavery charges that have been secured by the British Transport Police County Lines Taskforce.
BTP County Lines Taskforce
British Transport Police has been carrying out County Lines operations across England, Wales and Scotland since it secured Home Office funding for a Taskforce in December 2019.
The main aims of the Taskforce are to tackle drugs on the railway network, and to protect children and vulnerable adults who are often exploited by gangs into selling or moving drugs.
Efforts are made to safeguard any vulnerable or exploited person arrested as part of County Lines, referring them to services built to encourage and support the person away from dangerous criminal activity.
Twenty-six people have been referred to the National Referral Mechanism for safeguarding to date.
There have also been 470 arrests, 75 dangerous weapons seized, £173,000 seized in illicit cash and 236 seizures of class A and class B drugs.
Taskforce lead, Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams said: “Our Taskforce is in a unique position, we operate nationally and target County Lines activity across the railway network.
“Our experience has proven that gangs who use the railway network rely on younger people to move drugs. These individuals are victims, forced through exploitation or intimidation into desperate situations, and it’s always our priority to make support available that can get them out of harm and away from crime.
“Since December, we’ve been carrying out operations on a daily basis, always based on developing intelligence that shows where gangs are operating. We get part of our information through working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies, but also importantly through the support of the rail industry who train their staff to spot signs of exploitation.
“Key indicators include a young child travelling long distances, alone with a large amount of cash, or avoiding any sort of authority at stations. These indicators are small but invaluable and help inform where we target next. This is an evolving understanding of County Lines offending and we are prepared to tackle it, wherever the intelligence leads us.”