Two men who exploited a vulnerable teenager by making him work in a cannabis farm in Bradford have been jailed.
Zain Bashir and Usmaan Tasif were sentenced yesterday, Tuesday, 21 December at Bradford Crown Court after they had earlier pleaded guilty to arranging and or facilitating the travel of another for exploitation contrary to sections of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
On 23 January this year, a 15-year-old male was reported missing to West Yorkshire Police by his foster carer.
Mr Bashir was arrested a few days later when enquiries into the teenager’s disappearance led police to force entry to a building on Kingswood Terrace, Bradford, where they found an extensive cannabis farm over three floors.
He and Mr Tasif were duly charged with arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation and remanded into custody to appear before magistrates.
The victim returned to his carer eight days after he had been reported missing. He gave the police an in-depth account of how he had been tricked into getting into a vehicle and how his hair had been cut to disguise his appearance.
During the hearing, the court heard a distressing statement from the foster mother who cared for the boy after he was rescued from a cannabis farm in the district weeks before being taken to another one.
The foster carer said the boy spoke no English and sat in his chair looking fearful and avoiding eye contact. He had physical scars from being tortured at the first cannabis farm, the court heard.
He had spent most of his life in captivity and after he went missing and returned to her home, he hugged her tightly and cried. His hair had been shaved off by his captors and the nightmares began again.
CCTV enquiries around the victim’s home address quickly established that he was picked up by a white Mercedes car. This was quickly linked to Mr Tasif and later seized from outside his then home address in Maidstone Street, Bradford. He was arrested and later bailed for further enquiries.
Bashir, aged 25, of Ashfield Avenue in Bradford, was jailed for four years and nine months.
Tasif, aged 26, of Bishopthorpe Road in York, was jailed for three years and four months.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Farrell, of Bradford District Police, said: “These two men thought nothing of exploiting a vulnerable teenager and taking him away from a place of safety to work in a dangerous environment.
“Their actions were thoroughly reprehensible and this has been recognised by the courts.
“Human trafficking and modern-day slavery are abhorrent crimes that trade in human misery and have no place in the world today.
“They are also crimes which we treat incredibly seriously in West Yorkshire and our Programme Precision teams work with partners such as the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre, to safeguard those at risk and take action against those who seek to exploit them.”
The teenager has now been moved to another part of the country.