A drug dealer, who was running a so-called “county line” and using a 16-year-old boy as a “runner”, has been jailed for five years.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard how 31-year-old Rhidi Vibidila was running the drug dealing line, known as “CJ”, in Harlow and supplying cannabis and the Class A drugs crack cocaine and heroin.
In September 2017, officers stopped and arrested a then 16-year-old boy in Harlow, who was known to be working for Vibidila.
The teen was found with 30 grams of the Class B drug cannabis, seven wraps of heroin and 20 wraps of crack cocaine.
Following the boy’s arrest, the West Operation Raptor team began an investigation in Vibidila, which led them to execute a warrant at his home in Willow Way, Potters Bar a month later.
There, as well as drug dealing paraphernalia, officers seized 13 phones, which were all of which linked Vibidila to the “CJ” county line and drugs supply.
Vibidila was arrested and charged with two counts of offering to supply Class A drugs and offering to supply a Class B drug.
He denied the charges but was found guilty by a jury and jailed for five years on Thursday, January 9.
The teenager pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply and one count of possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply at an earlier hearing.
He was given a 12-month supervision order, ordered to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work and given a two-month curfew banning him from going out between 8pm and 5am.
Following the sentencing Det Sgt James Paget of the West Operation Raptor team said: “Vibidila, like many ruthless dealers who run so-called county line gangs, had no thought for the young boy he recruited and placed at risk by getting him to ‘run’ his drugs.
“Young people may think drug dealing is a ‘glamorous’ lifestyle or the route to easy money, but it isn’t – it’s a life of exploitation, violence, criminality, and, as in this case one that will lead to you appearing in a court dock.
“Fortunately in this instance the young boy has gone on to get a job and is being supported by his parents and Vibidila, a callous drug dealer, has been removed from the streets of our county.”
Essex Police sets up Operation Raptor teams in the North, South and West of the county to tackle drug and gang-related crime.
If you have information about drug or gang-related crime in your community contact Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.