Jailed: Drug dealer who exploited 15-year-old boy in order to deal drugs in Leamington

This followed an investigation into County Lines drug dealing by Warwickshire Police, Merseyside Police and West Midlands Police.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A drug dealer who exploited a 15-year-old boy in order to deal drugs in Leamington has been jailed for more than seven years.

This followed an investigation into County Lines drug dealing by Warwickshire Police, Merseyside Police and West Midlands Police.

Irakli Balatayev, 21 years, of The Moorfield in Coventry, was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison for drug supply and modern day slavery offences.

Irakli BalatayevIrakli Balatayev
Irakli Balatayev

Under Operation Toxic, officers from Merseyside Police carried out an investigation between January and February 2022 into County Lines drug dealing in the Leamington area, where it was discovered that Balatayev was using a 15-year-old boy from Wirral to deal drugs for him.

Merseyside Police charged Balatayev with supply of a class A and B drugs, cocaine, heroin and cannabis, and arranging or facilitating travel of another with a view to exploitation.

At an earlier hearing he pleaded guilty to these charges.

Detective Sergeant Kieran Connolly of Project Medusa said: “This sentencing ensures that the defendant can no longer exploit children for his own selfish gain.

“Sadly, the child in this case was groomed with cannabis, food and a promise of wages. The level of control went as far as to dictate when the child could shower or eat.

“Text messages sent by Balatayev to the 15-year-old boy contained detailed instructions of how to deal drugs and hide drugs upon his person. While the boy was in Coventry, Balateyev made arrangements for the child to deal from the home of vulnerable people, in a practice widely known as cuckooing.

“This investigation involved three separate forces which shows once again that regional boundaries are no obstacle in our determination to bring offenders to justice. Project Medusa is dedicated to cutting these County Lines dead, taking those who operate them off our streets and working with partners to help those exploited by these gangs.

"Police, partners and the public are becoming more aware of child exploitation and how to spot the signs. If you have concerns about the exploitation of young or vulnerable people in your community, we are ready to take action."