A man who exploited a network of teenagers to deal drugs for his criminal enterprise has been jailed for six years.
Weapons including a samurai sword, crossbow, hunting knives and baseball bats were seized when detectives launched their operation which led to the arrest of Lamar Aransibia, 22, of Foxglove Way, Bedford.
It came after Bedfordshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) spent months unpicking the ‘GWOP’ drugs line, a branded line which was selling drugs across Bedford.
Detective Chief Inspector Dani Bailey said: “Lamar Aransibia groomed, manipulated and exploited teenagers into doing his bidding, orchestrating this network of dealers and ensuring he picked up the profits from their drug dealing activity at the end of the day.
“The amount and type of weapons we seized during our enforcement activity shows the kind of serious violence that can be facilitated by the illegal drugs trade.
“Aransibia knew the risks – and happily let his dealers face these enormous risks on the streets every day, while he stayed largely in the background coordinating the drugs line.
“I am glad we have been able to dismantle this drugs network, take a number of serious weapons off the streets and secure a lengthy prison sentence for someone who was actively exploiting children in Bedford.”
The name ‘GWOP’ is a slang term for cash, or money in general.
SOCU detectives launched Operation Alden to track a variety of different street dealers operating in Bedford.
Police then used phone data to work out who these street dealers were calling when carrying out various drug deals – all of which led back to a phone number controlled by Aransibia, suggesting he was controlling and directing this network.
He was also forensically linked to drugs recovered by officers.
SOCU led enforcement action against the GWOP line in October 2019, carrying out warrants and searches at nine addresses across Bedford, Rushden and Milton Keynes as part of two days of action.
Aransibia was arrested at a hotel with the main GWOP phone in his possession. Police also recovered a hunting knife and just over £2,500 in cash.
Overall, eight teenagers involved in conducting deals for the GWOP line were identified under Operation Alden.
Seven have faced a combination of suspended prison sentences, youth rehabilitation orders or seen criminal proceedings withdrawn due to being identified as victims of modern slavery by the national referral mechanism.
One man is awaiting sentencing next month due to his activities linked to the GWOP line.
Aransibia pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to supply both cocaine and heroin.
His exploitation of children as part of his offending was highlighted as an aggravating factor in the case at court.
Last week at Luton Crown Court he was sentenced to serve six years in prison for each conspiracy, with these sentences to be served at the same time.
“I am glad that we have been able to work with other agencies like the youth offending service and the Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) to offer opportunities and rehabilitation to the young people caught up in this network,” said Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn.
“We recently launched the Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation (BAVEX) campaign to raise awareness of the links between violence, exploitation and organised crime.
“The GWOP line is an embodiment of this exploitation for criminal purposes. County lines, modern slavery, cuckooing, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation – you may have heard these different words, but the pattern is the same.
“It is exploitation. It is organised crime. And it is happening here and now in Bedfordshire. By telling us what you know, you can protect the vulnerable young people caught up in this exploitation, as well as helping us bring the exploiters to justice.”
Anyone with any information about drug dealing can contact Bedfordshire Police through Bedfordshire.police.uk/report or by calling 101.
All of this information is fed into police intelligence systems and can help detectives get a better understanding of organised criminal activity.
For information or support about knife crime, county lines or getting out of a gang, please visit bedsveru.org and make contact with the team. You can also find out more information about the different types of exploitation linked to organised crime and where to get help via bavex.co.uk