© Essex Police Essex between November 2021 and March 2022 and supplying Class A drugs to users. As a result of the investigation, officers from the Met Police's Operation Orochi established who held the drug lines and Benson was arrested in a joint operation on March 24, 2022. Photo Courtesy
A cruel drug dealer trafficked a young boy out of London and forced him to live in squalor for two weeks with barely any food or drink then bragged about it in a music video. Xavion Benson, 22, had promised the boy £2,800 in payment for his "work" but none of that money was paid and he was not able to wash or brush his teeth during the time he was held.
An investigation was launched when the boy's parents reported him missing to the Metropolitan Police. After he was released and returned to his family, he had visibly lost weight.
Officers were able to link the boy's phone with the numbers being used to run two drugs supply lines named Peter and Zak, which were already under investigation and were seen to be active from London in Clacton, Essex.
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Benson was identified as the performer, and had bragged about sending a "young boy" out to sell drugs on his behalf during the lyrics. A second London man, Ryan Arrowsmith, was also identified as being concerned in the drugs lines and was responsible for sending out bulk marketing messages.
These included texts advertising "fat deals 2 for 15 3 for 25 freebies for numbers". Officers were able to link a vehicle to Arrowsmith, which he regularly used to travel from London to Clacton and he was arrested in March 2022 after a warrant was executed at his home in Braundton Avenue, Sidcup.
During a search of his home, he was found trying to flush drugs down the toilet in his ensuite, in an attempt to destroy evidence. In total, more than £2,000 worth of drugs were seized and he was charged with being concerned in the supply of heroin, being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine and possession with intent to supply a Class A drug.
Benson, of Creek Road, Greenwich, was charged with being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and human trafficking with both men pleading guilty to the offences. Arrowsmith has now been jailed for four years and three months while Benson was locked behind bars for five years and seven months.
Recorder Eynon-Evans also imposed a slavery and trafficking prevention order which prevents him from arranging travel for anyone other than himself or a family member for the next seven years. Detective Inspector James Healy, of Essex Police's serious violence unit, said: "County lines gangs not only target vulnerable people in our communities, but they also target and groom vulnerable children to carry out their work. This is trafficking and exploitation; nothing less. It is a disgusting crime, and we were determined to pursue a conviction under the Modern Slavery Act given the impact Benson's actions have had on both the young boy and his family.
"This is the first conviction of its type in Essex, and I am extremely proud of the team for the tireless work they have put into identifying the people responsible, arresting them and putting them before the court.
"It is also a testament to the officer in this case that she was not content with the drugs conviction for Benson. She identified the further harm his actions caused to the boy and his family and relentlessly pursued a modern slavery conviction.
"Both Benson and Arrowsmith were responsible for the supply of Class A drugs on our streets. We do not tolerate that in Essex. They were unaware of the highly sophisticated investigation being carried out into their behaviour and when our strikes came in March, the evidence against them was already overwhelming and they have had no option but to admit their guilt in front of the courts.
"The work carried out between Essex officers and those from the Met's Op Orochi specialist command shows that we are not tackling this issue alone; we're doing it with our policing partners, as well as our local authority partners."
PC Harlie Turner, who led the Essex Police investigation, added: "One of the main aims of these gangs is to recruit young children into their lifestyle. It is common for more established gang members to offer acts of kindness to children to win them over.
"They are promised a life of money and designer clothes. But they are being duped. Very sadly these children soon find out the reality is nothing like the promise. Instead, they often go missing for long periods of time, creating terror for their parents who have no idea where they are. The children will stay in squalor conditions with little or no food and drink as they work to earn money for the gang elders.
"In this case, I am so glad that we were able to work alongside our Met colleagues to save this boy from gang life to allow he and his family to build a future away from people like Benson and Arrowsmith." Source: My London