Rap artist jailed over Leeds '˜drug factory'

AN ASPIRING rap artist appeared in a music video performing at a flat which he used as a '˜drugs factory' to package crack cocaine and heroin to sell on the streets of Leeds.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 9th February 2017, 11:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:34 am

Lavite Manaka, 20, was locked up for six years after pleading guilty to drug supply conspiracy in which he was the ringleader in charge of a 24-hour ‘ring and bring’ dealer line.

Months before his arrest in August last year, Manaka - performing as Levz Montana - featured in a video filmed outside number 137 Wykebeck Valley Road, Gipton, which was used as a base for the illegal operation.

Performing his song, called Designers, Manaka is filmed in front of the one-bedroom flat.

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Song lyrics boast about drugs and cash.

He appears to smoke cannabis and waves a wad of £20 notes.

Leeds Crown Court heard armed police searched the house and seized heroin and crack cocaine which had been packaged into individual wraps inside bun cases.

Officers discovered a ‘drug dealer kit’ which was used to prepare and package drugs.

A food blender, mixing bowl, ice cream scoop and latex gloves were all contaminated with the drugs.

Cedric Laby, 26, was the tenant at the property and also played a significant role in the drug supply operation.

Laby, who has a diploma in music and appears alongside Manaka in some of his videos, was arrested inside the house.

Manaka and a 16-year-old male, who cannot be identified, were arrested as the they left the house in a taxi and were found in possession of more drugs and cash.

The youth also had a “fearsome” machete hidden down his trousers.

Mobile phones seized from Manaka, of Francis Street, Chapeltown, revealed his role as the main operator of the ‘Rico’ drug dealer line.

People calling the number were able to arrange round-the-clock delivery.

Manaka sent a message to his customers stating: “It’s Rico - I’m back. I’ll be on 24/7.”

All three defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

Laby was jailed for three years, nine months.

The youth, who also admitted possession of an offensive weapon, was given a 42-month sentence.

The court heard all three defendants are Congolese nationals and face deportation after completing their sentences.

Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, told them: “I am perfectly satisfied that in each of your cases your continued presence is to the detriment of the country.”

The judge said his sentencing remarks would be made available to the Home Secretary.

Judge Bayliss told Manaka: “This demonstrates that you are a highly sophisticated drugs trafficker with a large supply network.

“You could arrange quick delivery of your wares to your customers.

“I am quite sure you were in control of the operation.”

After the case, Detective Inspector Jaz Khan, of Leeds District Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “A painstaking investigation by specialist officers uncovered the detailed evidence that linked these offenders to the organised supply of crack cocaine and heroin through a ‘ring and bring’ phone line.

“Their operation was clearly making a very significant contribution to the supply of Class A drugs which do enormous damage both to the lives of individuals who take them and in our communities where they fuel crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We hope the significant sentences they have received will help to reassure the public and serve as a stark reminder to others who think they can get away with criminal enterprises like this.

“We will continue to use all available tactics to target those involved in the supply of drugs and keep gathering intelligence from the community and elsewhere to focus our attention on them.”