Drug trafficker who exploited vulnerable young people is jailed
A drug trafficker who was part of an organised crime group that sold heroin and cocaine from Nottinghamshire to other parts of the country has been locked up.
Forrest Bentick was effectively running a drugs line for two months between Nottingham and Banbury, Oxfordshire, on behalf of gang leader Shekeil Sands who was coordinating this supply chain from within prison.
A key part of the group's operation involved the deliberate exploitation of children and vulnerable people to help them move the drugs to different areas.
Sands and his gang were ultimately snared by officers following a coordinated investigation that saw several police forces and departments work together to shut the supply network down.
Charges were brought against around 20 people involved in the enterprise, following a complex investigation that saw Nottinghamshire Police work in partnership with East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), Derbyshire Constabulary, Thames Valley Police, and Nottinghamshire County Council.
The complex and extensive investigation represented the first of its kind for Nottinghamshire Police, with the force helping secure convictions for modern slavery offences as part of a county lines operation.
This work led to Sands and his associates being handed more than 35 years of prison time between them last year.
Bentick, the final member of the group to be sentenced, was jailed for three years and five months on Monday (27 March 2023) after pleading guilty to conspiring to supply Class A drugs.
The 24-year-old, of no fixed address, was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court.
Detective Inspector Mark Adas, of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), said: “Back in November 2022, 21 people pleaded guilty to a variety of offences involving drugs, prisons and one firearms offence.
“Shekeil Sands was using around 30 hidden burner phones with longstanding County Lines numbers to set up drug deals and to communicate with his gang.
“It’s great to see another of these gang members now put behind bars. Such was the quality of the submission and the presentation of the evidence, it meant Bentick had no choice but to plead guilty.
“This case demonstrates that we will work tirelessly to prosecute criminals for drug dealing and target those who take advantage of and exploit young and vulnerable people.”