TWO "cowards" who exploited a 13-year-old boy to flood Worcestershire and other counties with class A drugs have been jailed.

They were arrested after the vulnerable boy was reported missing and investigating officers discovered he was being coerced by the pair to transport drugs from Wolverhampton into Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Shropshire.

Craig Messam, 28, of Primrose Avenue, Wolverhampton and Lewis Leachman, 29, of Simpson Grove, Wolverhampton both previously pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine and arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation.

Both men were issued with sentences today (June 1) at Warwick Crown Court.

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Messam was jailed for nine years for conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs (Heroin and Crack Cocaine).

Leachman was jailed for ten years and five months for modern slavery, conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs (Heroin and Crack Cocaine) and being concerned in the supply of drugs.

Retired Detective Sergeant Chris Harding, who led the investigation as part of the Warwickshire Police Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “Messam and Leachman are nothing more than cowards who controlled and coerced a vulnerable child to do drugs for them.

“County lines drug supply continues to be a major problem across the country, which often involves the exploitation of vulnerable people to perpetuate the supply of drugs. This causes significant harm in our communities.

“This sentence should send a clear message to people like Messam and Leachman that you’re not invincible; we are looking for you and when found you will be brought to justice.”