A dawn police raid smashed a county lines drug gang that forced 40 kids from one school to deal cannabis and cocaine.
The teens, some as young as 14, had been supplied with drugs and dealing kits including deal bags and scales.
It is thought that girls as young as 14 at Kingsdown School in Swindon, Wiltshire, were pestered for sex in exchange for cocaine.
A dawn police raid smashed a county lines drug gang that forced 40 kids from Kingsdown School in Swindon, Wiltshire, to deal cannabis and cocaine
Police say adult dealers had a network of 40 pupils dealing at the school which has just over 1,200 students in total.
This is the equivalent of one dealer per classroom.
A police raid at dawn on Wednesday – the day before GCSE results – discovered the extent of the teens coerced into the operation.
A man was taken away from the house in the early-morning raid. It is thought that girls as young as 14 were pestered for sex in exchange for cocaine
Police say adult dealers had a network of 40 pupils dealing at Kingsdown School which has just over 1,200 pupils
During the raid, a 27-year-old man was arrested by Wiltshire Police on suspicion of possession of class B drugs with intent to supply and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
He has since been released under investigation.
A pair of older teen boys, both 16, are believed to have been supplying a network of up to 40 children in their mid-teens at the Swindon school.
Sergeant Nathan Perry, who planned the 7am raid, said: ‘We found the person we’re looking for, we’ve managed to safeguard the children who were at risk and we’ve found drugs.
A 27-year-old man was arrested by Wiltshire Police during the raid on suspicion of possession of class B drugs with intent to supply and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity
‘We all know about County Lines and the risks associated with that.
Emma Leigh-Bennett is the headteacher at Kingsdown School. Sergeant Nathan Perry, who planned the 7am raid, said ‘very young children’ were targeted
‘The difficulty with this type of drugs operation is that it’s specifically targeting very young children in order to get them to deal drugs.
‘Some of the information we’ve been passed is that children are not only being coerced into this activity, but they’re also being physically threatened.
‘If they go to police or teachers they’ll be harmed.’
Police were said to have been alerted to the gang at Kingsdown School.
The raid came as Swindon police focused their sights on modern slavery.
Nationally, police have increasingly turned to modern slavery laws to target drug dealers who force children and vulnerable adults to peddle their product.
Sgt Perry said those convicted could expect sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment.
He said: ‘You’ve got children being exploited and young kids being forced to run the drugs.
‘We will take it seriously.
‘The sheer nature of the exploitation of these young people is unacceptable.
‘If we don’t do something to stop that they’re potentially going to be at risk for the rest of their lives.
‘Unfortunately, those children that are at risk now become the suspects of tomorrow and we lose them completely.
‘They need that positive engagement and we’re not going to be able to do that until we remove their handlers, for want of a better word.’
If children start becoming more withdrawn, secretive about their possessions and start acquiring cash and expensive clothes without explanation, it could be a sign they are being exploited by the gangs.
Children as young as seven are being lured into county line drug dealing
A disturbing report by the Children’s Society has warned that gangs are using children to deal drugs in cities, towns and villages across the UK (stock image)
Ruthless drug dealers are ‘scouting’ for ‘naughty’ primary school children who are being persuaded to steal fruit as a gang initiation before climbing the ranks and being forced to peddle drugs hundreds of miles from their home.
A disturbing report by the Children’s Society has warned that gangs are ‘casting their net wider’ to target even younger children, picking on those who ‘throw stones at windows’ or are easily led.
Youngsters are being instructed to ‘act out’ in school, such as flouting uniform rules, so they can purposely be excluded from classes to do ‘shift work’ dealing drugs in cities, towns and villages across the UK.
The report by the influential charity, which provides services for children at risk of exploitation, warns of the terrifying speed at which young children are being lured in.
A slick grooming process may start with the children being offered pocket money to watch out for police, before escalating with requests to stash drugs, weapons or money.