‘Drug dealers used me like a dog’: Two case studies of cuckooing offences in Dyfed-Powys
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As part of the INTACT campaign highlighting cuckooing, Dyfed-Powys Police has shared two case studies of properties which were taken over by an OCG.
The first was brought to light in June 2020, when police were informed that the occupant of a property in the town was not at home, but there were people in their flat ‘smashing the place up’.
The caller also reported that there had been a smell of cannabis coming from the flat the previous night, which was becoming a regular occurrence.
Police attended and found two teenagers – both aged 16 at the time – inside the flat. One was identified as a missing person from the West Midlands area, who had apparently arrived in the force area a few days earlier.
Officers immediately suspected a link to county lines activity.
Both teens were detained under Section 46 Protection of Children Act, and were arrested for being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs, however they claimed they had been picked up and brought to the area the previous day, and that they did not know where they were.
The true occupant of the flat was located and arrested on suspicion of supplying controlled drugs, and was found to be vulnerable through a heroin addiction. He told officers he had been contacted by a man from the Wolverhampton area, telling him he must let two boys stay at his flat and that he was to detain them there. He sold heroin on their behalf, giving the money to the boys and receiving free drugs for his own use in return.
The victim started he feared there would be violent repercussions if the forced the boys out of his flat as they had a key. He described feeling used ‘like a dog’ as his home had been taken over by the boys with him forced to stay in his bedroom or away from the flat completely.
The boys were released under investigation, and enquiries are ongoing.
In the second instance, an organised crime gang made arrangements with a drug supplier to house a 17-year-old runner at the home of a lifelong drug user. The terms of the agreement were that the occupant would receive discounted drugs with the odd free hit in return for letting the runner stay.
The day after the runner arrived, police had reason to call at the home of the victim, who phoned the teen to alert him that officers were at her door. He was seen running out of the property and was later arrested for being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
The victim, who had allowed substances to be buried in her garden, was also arrested for being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, and was released under investigation.
After she was released from custody, the victim reported that two men had driven to her home and tried to get in. She stated that when she refused entry, they made a ‘cut-throat’ gesture, making her fear for her life.
Safeguarding measures were put in place to protect her.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Cotterell said: “In both cases, the threat of violence was apparent to officers. The man in the first case was too fearful to even return to his address while the runners were there, while the woman felt she was threatened after the event.
“We also have three youngsters involved here, who have been taken out of their local areas and put at risk through selling drugs. This emphasises the dangers involved with county lines dealing, which crosses into further offending such as exploitation and modern slavery.”
For more information about cuckooing, including signs to look out for and who the victims are, click here.