Slavery protection order issued for woman involved in Sidmouth drugs ring

Ismail Itman was jailed for her part in the drugs ring

Ismail Itman was jailed for her part in the drugs ring - Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

A care worker who exploited vulnerable children in a County Lines drugs gang has had her future contact with young people restricted by a Slavery Protection Order.

Itman Ismail worked for a care charity before falling in love with a drug dealer and helping him run an operation which recruited runaway boys. 

She was on sick leave from the Heartwood care charity in London when she transported 15- and 16-year-old boys to Devon and Somerset in hire cars - including in Sidmouth.

The four boys, who had run away from other care homes in South London, were used as street dealers and couriers, often carrying potentially lethal cargoes of drugs inside their bodies.

They used were all classified as missing and at high risk. Two were found with a total of 191 wraps of heroin and crack with a street value of £2,390 ‘plugged’ in their rectums. 

She exploited them despite having been trained in safeguarding and even lecturing other social workers on the dangers of human trafficking. 

The drug gang run by her partner Omarie Nixon operated in Bridgwater, Sidmouth, Plymouth and Torquay and were caught by police with the runaway boys in cars which she hired.

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Ismail, 29, was jailed for four years at Exeter Crown Court in January 2021 after admitting three counts of modern slavery.

She will serve half her sentence and had been remanded in custody for almost a year and is due for release within weeks.

Judge David Evans imposed a five year Slavery and Trafficking Protection Order which bans her from contacting children and requires her to give the police details of any car she hires or phone she uses.

The judge, who passed the original sentence, told her the order was necessary to protect children from the risk of physical or psychological harm.

He said: "There is more than a theoretical risk of reoffending. In my judgment, while she may not have known about the use of mules and the 'plugging' of drugs, she knew full well the general purpose of exploiting the children.

"She was under the influence of her co-defendant but not under duress. She willingly put in jeopardy her good name and career, apparently in the name of love and perhaps in pursuit of the misguided glamour of criminality.

"She risked harm to children. She was not unaware, in fact the opposite."

The order is one of the first imposed on a woman since the Modern Slavery Act became law in 2015.

Ismail was jailed alongside her lover Omarie Nixon, 21, who admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine and possession of a mobile phone in prison and was jailed for seven years and nine months.

He ran the drugs operation but she booked hotels or houses in Sidmouth, Bridgwater, Plymouth, and Torquay and joined Nixon and the boys on a series of trips by car or coach.

She hired seven different hire cars over four months making at least 11 trips to the West Country, each journey averaging 1,000 miles.

Ismail and Nixon at a car hire office

Ismail and Nixon at a car hire office - Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

Ismail paid £25,000 into her bank account during the four months of the conspiracy but the true value of the drug dealing is thought to have been much higher.

She and Nixon were caught twice in the space of three days in the company of three 15- and one 16-year-old children.

Phone, car hire and banking evidence showed they had been operating in Devon and Cornwall since the previous month and carried on dealing until they were arrested again near London in March. 

Ismail's only sign of any concern for the boys was a text sent in Somali to Nixon which said: "I wish you didn't use clean kids who are scared of the police."

Daniel Murray, for Ismail, said she parts of the order were excessive because she had never been directly involved in the supply of drugs and the boys had travelled to Devon initially by coach rather than hire car.