Boy in care trafficked hundreds of miles away from his home to deal drugs
He was trafficked by convicted heroin and crack cocaine dealer Ryan Jones.
A boy in care was trafficked hundreds of miles away from his home to deal drugs, a court has heard.
The unnamed "vulnerable" 17-year-old was put on a train from Liverpool Lime Street to the south-west of England by convicted heroin and crack cocaine dealer Ryan Jones.
Liverpool Crown Court was told the teenager was used to transport drugs from Merseyside to Exeter or as a "foot soldier" in street dealing in Paignton, Devon, as part of a county lines operation in June 2019.
He had told staff at the children's home in Birkenhead he was going fishing in Wales before being trafficked.
Jones, 27, of Birkenhead, admitted arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation.
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In August 2022, he was sentenced to four years at Plymouth Crown Court for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine as part of the 'Scouse JJ' line that had been operating in the south-west.
On Friday, he was jailed for an additional 43 months, to be served consecutively to his current term and given a 10-year slavery and trafficking prevention order.
David Watson, prosecuting, described how the boy disappeared on 13 June, 2019 after telling staff he was going on a fishing trip to Anglesey.
Around 5pm that day, Jones left the teenager at Lime Street Station.
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The boy then boarded a train, arriving at Exeter shortly before 10pm and spending the next few days in regular contact with the gang via a phone.
The boy was reported missing by the care home the same evening, eventually being found in Torquay nearly a month later and returned to Merseyside.
Martyn Walsh, defending, said of father-of-three Jones: "His initial introduction to drugs was as a result of him being coerced into it.
"He had a drug debt and he became involved. That is not to say he has not progressed, but that was his initial involvement in the trade."
Sentencing, Judge David Aubrey KC added: "He had been recruited by you for exploitation in this county lines operation.
"He was to act as a willing runner, although still a child, between Liverpool and Exeter or as a foot soldier supplying drugs in Devon."
In 2015, Jones was jailed for 40 months for possession of a class A drug with intent to supply.