TWO children discovered by police in a Milford Haven drug den were victims of modern slavery, a court has heard

Last week Junior Renford, aged 25, was told he would serve more than two-and-a-half years in prison for his part in a 'county lines' drug trafficking operation.

Renford - of Deer Park Terrace, Charlton, London - was arrested at a house in Elm Lane, the Mount Estate, on September 28 last year.

Police also discovered 21 wraps of crack cocaine, 34 wraps of heroin, £360 in cash, and a sheathed machete - as well as two teenagers who it emerged had been trafficked to Wales as modern slaves.

The young girl was later found to have heroin and cocaine hidden in an intimate part of her body.

Swansea Crown Court heard Renford - who had been sleeping on a sofa when police arrived - became "obstructive" towards officers and had to be "manhandled" into a police van.

He initially claimed his trip to Pembrokeshire was innocent, and had merely come to visit a relative.

Drug gangs

Barrister Dyfed Thomas, acting on Renford's behalf, said he had been sent to west Wales by people higher up the chain of command in the drug gang.

He said the Londoner was 'in debt' to people who were "ruthless in the execution of their business".

"This young man was being used, being used as much as the two youngsters he was found with," he said.

The court heard Renford had previous convictions for theft matters, affray, and drug trafficking, and at the time of the Milford Haven bust had been on bail.

Judge Peter Heywood said it was clear Renford had been sent to west Wales by others higher up the chain - and he noted it was "always the foot soldiers never the generals" who appeared in court after being caught.

The judge said he had read a psychiatric report into the defendant, and it was clear there was suggestibility and gullibility to him.

Judge Heywood said the appropriate sentence after trial for the section 20 wounding would have been one of 20 months prison - giving the defendant credit for his guilty plea, that was reduced to 15 months.

For the possession with intent charges he said appropriate sentence would would have been 48 months concurrently on both - giving Renford a 10 percent discount for his guilty pleas, which were only entered on the day of trial, that was reduced to 43 months.

The assault sentence and the drug trafficking sentence will run consecutively, making an overall sentence of 58 months.

Renford will serve half that period in custody before being released to serve the remainder on licence in the community.

No charges were brought over the machete.

What are 'county lines'?

Speaking after Renford's arrest last year, Dyfed-Powys Police Detective Chief Inspector Anthony Evans said: “These arrests are being linked with county lines, which is the name given to criminal activity from major cities using vulnerable children and adults to transport cash and drugs into rural areas.

"We will not tolerate gangs coming into our force area to deal drugs, and are doing all we can to stamp out county lines.

“We are determined to rid our community of the scourge of drugs dealers that travel into Pembrokeshire so will continue to work with partners and the community to achieve it.

“With this in mind, please continue to give us any information to assist us to protect those vulnerable people that fall prey to the dealers’ activities.”