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A screengrab from a drill music video© Essex Police Essex between November 2021 and March 2022 and supplying Class A drugs to users. As a result of the investigation, officers from the Met Police's Operation Orochi established who held the drug lines and Benson was arrested in a joint operation on March 24, 2022. Photo Courtesy

 

cruel drug dealer trafficked a young boy out of London and forced him to live in squalor for two weeks with barely any food or drink then bragged about it in a music video. Xavion Benson, 22, had promised the boy £2,800 in payment for his "work" but none of that money was paid and he was not able to wash or brush his teeth during the time he was held.

An investigation was launched when the boy's parents reported him missing to the Metropolitan Police. After he was released and returned to his family, he had visibly lost weight.

Officers were able to link the boy's phone with the numbers being used to run two drugs supply lines named Peter and Zak, which were already under investigation and were seen to be active from London in Clacton, Essex.

READ MORE: Men attempted to smuggle cannabis worth £400k from US in suitcases

 
He was questioned on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and further investigations found a music video of a drill music artist who had been published under the name 'Pushweight Bandit'.

Benson was identified as the performer, and had bragged about sending a "young boy" out to sell drugs on his behalf during the lyrics. A second London man, Ryan Arrowsmith, was also identified as being concerned in the drugs lines and was responsible for sending out bulk marketing messages.

These included texts advertising "fat deals 2 for 15 3 for 25 freebies for numbers". Officers were able to link a vehicle to Arrowsmith, which he regularly used to travel from London to Clacton and he was arrested in March 2022 after a warrant was executed at his home in Braundton Avenue, Sidcup.

During a search of his home, he was found trying to flush drugs down the toilet in his ensuite, in an attempt to destroy evidence. In total, more than £2,000 worth of drugs were seized and he was charged with being concerned in the supply of heroin, being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine and possession with intent to supply a Class A drug. 

Benson, of Creek Road, Greenwich, was charged with being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and human trafficking with both men pleading guilty to the offences. Arrowsmith has now been jailed for four years and three months while Benson was locked behind bars for five years and seven months.

 
Ryan Arrowsmith
Ryan Arrowsmith© Essex Police

Recorder Eynon-Evans also imposed a slavery and trafficking prevention order which prevents him from arranging travel for anyone other than himself or a family member for the next seven years. Detective Inspector James Healy, of Essex Police's serious violence unit, said: "County lines gangs not only target vulnerable people in our communities, but they also target and groom vulnerable children to carry out their work. This is trafficking and exploitation; nothing less. It is a disgusting crime, and we were determined to pursue a conviction under the Modern Slavery Act given the impact Benson's actions have had on both the young boy and his family.

"This is the first conviction of its type in Essex, and I am extremely proud of the team for the tireless work they have put into identifying the people responsible, arresting them and putting them before the court.

"It is also a testament to the officer in this case that she was not content with the drugs conviction for Benson. She identified the further harm his actions caused to the boy and his family and relentlessly pursued a modern slavery conviction.

"Both Benson and Arrowsmith were responsible for the supply of Class A drugs on our streets. We do not tolerate that in Essex. They were unaware of the highly sophisticated investigation being carried out into their behaviour and when our strikes came in March, the evidence against them was already overwhelming and they have had no option but to admit their guilt in front of the courts.

"The work carried out between Essex officers and those from the Met's Op Orochi specialist command shows that we are not tackling this issue alone; we're doing it with our policing partners, as well as our local authority partners."

PC Harlie Turner, who led the Essex Police investigation, added: "One of the main aims of these gangs is to recruit young children into their lifestyle. It is common for more established gang members to offer acts of kindness to children to win them over.

"They are promised a life of money and designer clothes. But they are being duped. Very sadly these children soon find out the reality is nothing like the promise. Instead, they often go missing for long periods of time, creating terror for their parents who have no idea where they are. The children will stay in squalor conditions with little or no food and drink as they work to earn money for the gang elders.

"In this case, I am so glad that we were able to work alongside our Met colleagues to save this boy from gang life to allow he and his family to build a future away from people like Benson and Arrowsmith." Source: My London

 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday it is supporting the relocation of Afghan girls to Rwanda to continue their education.

The support follows the decision by the Taliban to ban women and girls from secondary and tertiary education.

The girls are among the first overseas students admitted to the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) -- an Afghan all-girls boarding school based initially in Kabul, before it was forced to relocate to Rwanda following the ban, said the IOM.

In December, the Taliban expanded restrictions on women's education, most recently banning women from university study indefinitely and working in local and international non-governmental organizations.

Since August 2021, following their return to power after the officials of the US-backed Kabul administration fled the country and foreign forces withdrew, the Taliban imposed several restrictions on women that compelled many professionals to leave Afghanistan.  

Safe space for girls

As the first and only school of its kind, SOLA provides a safe space for Afghan girls to receive a secondary-level education, with a vision of creating a generation of female leaders, said IOM.

"The dedication and strength of Afghan women and girls in the face of such adversity inspires and humbles us every day," said IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino. "This initiative fills me with hope and resolve to continue our advocacy alongside women and girls in the country for an Afghanistan that acknowledges, promotes, and builds on the contributions of its women and invests in its girls."

The girls' arrival in Rwanda follows an agreement between the IOM and SOLA to assist with safe travel arrangements and relocation of its students -- already outside Afghanistan -- from their current countries of residence to the campus in Rwanda.

The students who arrived were assisted and escorted to the SOLA campus by IOM staff.

"The students were very excited to be traveling to their school. During the flight, the youngest girl was given a pilot's hat, and sunglasses," according to an unnamed IOM staffer escorting the students.

SOLA's founder, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, said: "March 2023 marks one year since the Taliban closed the doors of girls' schools in Afghanistan, denying Afghan girls the right to study past 6th grade."

She said: "It is incredibly meaningful to me that they are now arriving in Rwanda to pursue their education, and I am endlessly grateful to IOM for helping facilitate their safe travel to our school, where they will grow to become members of a generation of leaders who one day will help rebuild Afghanistan."

The new students will join their SOLA classmates, whom the Rwandan government welcomed in August 2021.

IOM said it would continue to help relocate more Afghan students to SOLA. - Anadolu Agency

  • A triptych mural painted by Kenyan and Ukrainian artists in Nairobi on March 10, 2023. VIKTART MWANGI-Photo Courtesy 
 
  • On March 10, a head-turning triptych mural was painted along Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi. The paintings contained artworks depicting the Kenyan and Ukrainian flags side by side standing out boldly.

    This is the work of the ‘The Wall Project’ which consists of a collection of artists drawn from several countries including the two represented in the art.

    “The Wall symbolises resistance, stability, and armor that fences off Europe from the war,” read a statement from the Port website, a Ukrainian art agency.

    Ukraine's Ambassador to Kenya, Andriy Pravednyk
    Ukraine's Ambassador to Kenya, Andriy Pravednyk FILE
     

    The Wall has projects in Vienna, Austria, Marseille in France, Berlin in Germany, and now Nairobi, Kenya.

    A triptych is a picture or art piece on three panels and was a common format for altar paintings in the middle ages. Typically, the panels are hinged together vertically. 

    However, this is a triptych mural, which are three paintings covering the walls of three multi-storey buildings standing side by side.

    One of the murals showsf an African hand representing Kenyan people  shaking that of a Caucasian representing Ukrainian people.

    On the right side, it has a spear from the coat of arms of Kenya and on the left side, a trident from the coat of arms of Ukraine.

    The joint project of Kenyan and Ukrainian artists uses such symbols to show the friendly relationship between Kenyans and Ukrainians.

    The Wall presents art as a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine which kicked off on February 24, 2022.

    Kenya has a long history of trade with Ukraine. For instance, in November 2022, Kenya received 53,000 tonnes of wheat from Ukraine. 

    This is the second large mural in Kenya in recent months. In January 2023, a mural of marathon great Eliud Kipchoge was unveiled in Eldoret.

    Kenyan and Ukrainian artists paint a mural in Nairobi on March 10, 2023.
    Kenyan and Ukrainian artists paint a mural in Nairobi on March 10, 2023. TWITTER VIKTART MWANGI  -By Steve Thuku, Kenyans.co.ke
     
 

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