A County Lines dealer from Thornton Heath who packed more than 100 drug wraps up his bottom has been jailed after claiming he was a victim of modern slavery.

Joshua Campos, 20, was convicted by a Swindon jury of four counts of  selling heroin and crack cocaine at opposite ends of the country in Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk and Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. 

Campos was arrested in May 2020 having secreted more than 100 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine in his bottom. The drugs were only discovered once he was in custody and the day after he was arrested.

Campos admitted dealing drugs on behalf of the “Albert” drugs line in Bury St Edmunds between December 2019 and March 2020, then for a new drugs line in Weston-super-Mare.

However, he claimed he’d been acting under duress, advancing the relatively new Modern Slavery Act defence. He had a previous conviction for possession with intent to supply cannabis.

Speaking after the jury returned its guilty verdicts, prosecutor Virginia Cornwall said: “He is clearly involved in holding the line, in directing the selling of drugs. It is clearly commercial and he clearly would have substantial links and influence, the Crown submit, on others within that organised crime group with the expectation of gain whether financial or not.”

Neil Ross, mitigating, asked the judge to take into account his client’s youth and the fact he had already served time on remand during the pandemic, when conditions in prison were worse than in normal times. His firstborn had been born while he was remanded.

He said: “He is a young man who has had considerable difficulties in his life; problems, educational issues and a lot of moving around.”

Campos had written a letter to the judge expressing his motivation to change. He was just 18 and 19 at the time the offences were committed.

Recorder Richard Smith QC sentenced Campos, of Ashley Road, Thornton Heath, to four years detention in a young offenders’ institution.

Sending him down, the judge acknowledged that Campos had initially been an “easy target” for exploitative dealers, but said that had changed as he got older.

H said: “You had thought through your own choice. You were no longer in any sense a victim. You made choices by your own design and you were not working at the compulsion of anybody else in a way that gave you a defence.”

The activity to arrest and charge Campos formed part of Operation Orochi, an operation led by the Metropolitan Police which focuses on analysing mobile phone data to disrupt the activities of organised criminal gangs.

PC Charlie Gates, investigating officer at Avon and Somerset Police, said: “Our investigation stemmed from a proactive vehicle stop in May 2020, which led to a warrant being carried out at a property in Worle, where Campos was located and 104 wraps of class A drugs were recovered.

“This led to a joint investigation with the Met Police and Suffolk Police to uncover the full extent of Campos’ offending.

“Campos paid no regard to the harm and impact he was causing in our communities and his sole motivation was to profit from his illegal activities. We hope this sends out a strong message out to people that county lines drug-dealing will not be tolerated.”

Detective Chief Inspector Ben Clark, who oversees the Op Orochi operation for Suffolk Police added: “This is a great example of how we work closely with other forces to tackle county lines drug crime, and a clear demonstration that we will pursue such individuals who cause harm to our communities.”

If you suspect drug dealing is taking place in your area or see anything suspicious or out of place, please tell us. You don’t have to be certain, just concerned. Call police on 101, or alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers to report anonymously – either online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling 0800 555 111.