A Leeds man who exploited teenage boys in county lines drug dealing and bragged about his lavish lifestyle online has been jailed.
The 25-year-old was arrested in May 2020 after he was found with a mobile phone linked with a number directing street-level drug dealers.
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Specialist detectives from Leeds Precision Team investigating serious and organised crime uncovered evidence linking the Manaka to a drug-dealing operation supplying heroin and crack cocaine between Leeds and Humberside.
West Yorkshire Police said he was controlling four boys, as young as 14, from Bradford and Leeds, between February and May 2020. Three of the boys had been reported missing by their parents.
Levite Manaka has been jailed for seven years (Image: West Yorkshire Police)
They were arrested in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, and other parts of Humberside with varying amounts of crack cocaine, heroin and cash.
At the time, Manaka was on licence from prison for similar offences and would continue to attend Probation Service appointments.
He also produced drill rap videos under the name Levz Montana, in which he bragged about his lavish lifestyle and glorified drug dealing and gang violence, the police added.
Manaka is due to be deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo on his release from prison.
Money Manaka made from the missing boys (Image: West Yorkshire Police)
Detective Inspector Kevin Daly, who heads the Leeds Precision Team, said: “This is an excellent result for communities both here in Leeds and in Humberside and should demonstrate our commitment to targeting those who seek to exploit vulnerable young people through the drugs trade.
“The world of drug dealing is a dangerous one and our evidence showed that the young people Manaka was controlling had been subject to serious violence and harm.
“It took painstaking and complex detective work to tie him directly to the conspiracy and he was left with no option but to admit his involvement when faced with the evidence at court.
“We hope the significant prison sentence he has received will serve to reassure the community and send a very clear message to those who think they can get away with taking advantage of young and vulnerable children to profit from their criminal enterprise.”
‘County lines’ is a term used to describe networks of gangs and organised crime groups, who use children, young people and vulnerable adults to carry out illegal activity on their behalf with promises of money, friendship and status.
The crime then sees young children travel across counties and use dedicated mobile phone ‘lines’ to supply drugs as well as the storage and supply of drugs.
Gangs also use children for the movement of cash proceeds and to secure the use of dwellings, which is known as ‘cuckooing’.
Once they’ve been drawn in, children are often controlled using threats, violence and sexual abuse. These children can then become trapped in criminal exploitation and feel as if they have no choice but to continue doing what the criminals want.
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Anyone with concerns or information can contact officers via 101 or 999 if they have concerns that a young person could be in immediate danger.
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