Leeds gangster Lavite Manaka back in prison for exploiting vulnerable teenage boys in 'county lines' drug dealing network

A Leeds gangster who exploited vulnerable teenage boys in a ‘county lines’ drug dealing network has been jailed for seven years.

By Tony Gardner
Friday, 17th December 2021, 4:45 am

Specialist detectives from Leeds Precision Team, which investigates serious and organised crime, uncovered a trail of evidence that linked 25-year-old Lavite Manaka to a drug dealing operation supplying heroin and crack cocaine between Leeds and Humberside.

Manaka, aged 25, of Roundhay Road, Harehills, was arrested in May 2020 in possession of a mobile phone that was linked to a number shown to be directing street-level drug dealers.

Evidence demonstrated that he was controlling four boys, as young as 14, between February and May 2020.

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Lavite Manaka has been returned to prison for seven years for running a 'country lines' drug dealing operation in which he exploited vulnerable teenage boys. Manaka boasted about his criminal activities on social media.

The boys were all from the Leeds and Bradford area and three of them had been reported missing by concerned parents.

They were arrested in Bridlington and other parts of Humberside with varying amounts of crack cocaine, heroin and cash.

At the time, Manaka was on licence from prison for almost identical offences and continued to attend Probation Service appointments.

He also produced drill rap videos under the name Levz Montana, in which he bragged about his lavish lifestyle and glorified drug dealing and gang violence.

Drug dealer Lavite Manaka was jailed for seven years at Leeds Crown Court.

Manaka also boasted about his latest criminal activities on social media.

Images of him posing with large amounts of cash were recovered from his mobile after he was arrested.

He was charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and other drugs offences.

Manaka pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

Images recovered from Lavite Manaka's mobile phone showed him with cash made from county lines drug dealing operation.

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His sentence was based on aggravating features which included his previous convictions for similar offences, the fact he was on licence at the time and his direction of the juveniles who were under his control.

He is due to be deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo when released from prison.

Detective Inspector Kevin Daly, who heads the Leeds Precision Team, said: “This is an excellent result for communities both here in Leeds and in Humberside and should demonstrate our commitment to targeting those who seek to exploit vulnerable young people through the drugs trade.

Lavite Manaka boasted about his criminal activity on social media.

“The world of drug dealing is a dangerous one and our evidence showed that the young people Manaka was controlling had been subject to serious violence and harm.

“It took painstaking and complex detective work to tie him directly to the conspiracy and he was left with no option but to admit his involvement when faced with the evidence at court.

“We hope the significant prison sentence he has received will serve to reassure the community and send a very clear message to those who think they can get away with taking advantage of young and vulnerable children to profit from their criminal enterprise.”

'County lines' is a term used to describe networks of gangs and organised crime groups, who use children, young people and vulnerable adults to carry out illegal activity on their behalf.

This criminal exploitation involved young children travel across counties and use dedicated mobile phone lines to supply drugs.

As well as the storage and supply of drugs, gangs also use children for the movement of cash proceeds and to secure the use of dwellings, commonly referred

Lavite Manaka also produced drill rap videos, under the name Levz Montana, in which he bragged about his lavish lifestyle and glorified drug dealing and gang violence.

to as 'cuckooing'.

Criminal gangs groom children into trafficking their drugs for them with promises of money, friendship and status.

Once they have been drawn in, children are often controlled using threats, violence and sexual abuse.

These children can then become trapped in criminal exploitation and feel as if they have no choice but to continue doing what the criminals want.

Signs of criminal exploitation include unexplained absences from school, college, training or work; going missing from home, staying out late and travelling for unexplained reasons; in a relationship or hanging out with someone older than them; being angry, aggressive or violent; having unexplained money and buying new things; wearing clothes or accessories in gang colours or getting tattoos

Other signs include spending more time on social media and being secretive about time online; unexplained injuries; carrying weapons; making more calls or sending more

texts, possibly on a new phone or phones; taking drugs / abusing alcohol; having hotel cards or keys to unknown places.

The police work collaboratively with other forces and regional organised crime units to build intelligence, tackle the demand for drugs, ensure disruption of county lines activity, protect the vulnerable and carry out enforcement activity.

Anyone with concerns or information can contact officers via 101 or 999 if they have concerns that a young person could be in immediate danger.