Identical twin brothers from south London have been jailed after a specialist crime squad carried out an operation looking into London teenagers being recruited to carry out county line drug dealing in Hertfordshire.
Prosecutors told Kingston Crown Court that 24-year-old Malik Aziz of Streatham, exploited two boys aged 14 and 15 and ran a drugs line with his brother Omar and Samir Mustafa, 24, from Reading.
As well as jail sentences all three men were issued with ten-year Criminal Behaviour Orders which prohibits them from ‘making, participating in and/or publishing any material inciting gang related violence.’
Another condition of the order stops them from ‘being in the company of any persons ages 16 or under without the express permission of their parents or legal guardian.’
The two London teenagers were reported missing by their parents in January last year. Both were found at an address in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, on January 18, 2022. Police detained Omar and Malik Aziz at their Streatham home a short while later. A phone controlling the Hatfield line was seized from Malik. He had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine / heroin and possession of a firearm.
Twin brother Omar was jailed alongside him on Tuesday, May 2, to three years and two months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.
Meanwhile Samir Mustafa was handed a two years and three months’ sentence having pleaded guilty to the same charge plus driving whilst disqualified.
Officers from Operation Orochi, the Met’s specialist crime team dedicated to tackling high harm offenders involved in county lines drugs supply, carried out a proactive operation to bring the trio to justice.
Police said a mobile phone and black ‘Hoodrich’ gloves were seized from Malik Aziz. The phone was found to be the number for a Hatfield drugs line. They said this line had been directing children to supply drugs on their behalf and sending out bulk SMS messages advertising crack cocaine and heroin for sale.
When officers searched the twin brothers’ home address they discovered a bag containing a small unloaded Sig Sauer self-loading pistol. Eight rounds of ammunition were found in a man-bag. The firearm was later identified as belonging to Malik after footage was found on his mobile phone. Police said he was seen holding the gun whilst wearing the same distinctive gloves he was wearing upon arrest. DNA matching that of the identical twins was also found on the firearm.
The court also heard that CCTV footage recovered from the home address of Malik and Omar Aziz showed the two missing children attending the premises prior to going missing. This is believed to be where they would have been supplied with the drugs for onward sale.
More than £2,000 in cash was seized from the address and Samir Mustafa’s driving licence was also seized, along with a zombie knife. Mustafa was arrested the following day after being identified as the person who physically transported the children to and from Hatfield in his Mercedes S Class car, whilst being disqualified. He was located in the vicinity of Crawford Place in Westminster.
After sentencing Detective Constable Dec James, the investigating officer from Operation Orochi, said: “County lines drug dealers exploit young and vulnerable people to facilitate their drug supply.
“They hope that by using vulnerable children as drugs runners they will shield themselves from identification and prosecution by law enforcement. This is because frequently, these exploited persons are too scared to assist police.
“Drill music was also used to glorify their criminal activities.
“I hope this sentence sends out a message that we will not tolerate the exploitation of children nor the supply of drugs.
“We will pursue those involved, irrespective of whether the victim assists the police or not.
“The additional recovery of a loaded firearm associated with these perpetrators reflects the intractable association between drug supply and violence.”
The two children were not prosecuted and instead safeguarded. Police said they have been referred to Children’s Services at their local authorities.
Since 1 April 2023 Orochi have conducted 20 operations, rescuing 27 children from County Lines and charged 25 individuals with modern slavery offences.
The specialist crime unit have worked closely with Rescue and Response, a pan-London service that supports London young people aged up to 25 who are involved in or affected by county lines activity.
Other useful organisations for young people and their families caught up in county line activity include:
- Catch 22 is a specialist support and rescue service for young people and their families who are criminally exploited through county lines.
- The SafeCall service, run by charity Missing People, offers confidential, non-judgemental support to young people and their families.
- Victim Support is an independent charity in England and Wales that provides specialist practical and emotional support to victims and witnesses of crime.
- #LookCloser is a partnership campaign between The Children’s Society, the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre and the British Transport Police, encouraging everyone to learn the signs of child exploitation and how to report it if worried, including here on their anonymous online form. The campaign also seeks to highlight that child exploitation can happen anywhere, and any young person can be a victim. Find out more at the campaign webpage.
- For more advice on drugs, their effects and the law, talk to Frank.