OVER £100,000 of drugs and £35,000 in cash has been recovered by Leicestershire Police during a week-long crackdown on ‘county lines’ drug gangs.
The force carried out 11 warrants and arrested 28 people during a national national County Lines Intensification Week coordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
County lines involves groups travelling from large urban areas to smaller county locations to sell or collect drugs and deliver cash, using dedicated mobile phone lines.
The groups may challenge existing ones from the area in a bid to take over the local market, which can cause an increase in violence.
They also exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store drugs and money, sometimes using coercion, intimidation and violence. They can also use local properties as a base for their activities often acquired by force or coercion – referred to as ‘cuckooing.’
Ch Insp Emma Maxwell said: “The national County Lines Intensification Week has come just a few weeks after we arrested 43 people under Op Impose in the Hinckley area taking out an entire county line. We searched 76 addresses and recovered almost £200,000 in cash, various offensive weapons and around 6kg of heroin with a value in excess of £300,000 – which doesn’t take into account the street value.
“If you add the results from the national week of action as well, then we have had an incredibly successful month tackling county lines criminality across the force area. We’ve been able to take a very significant amount of drugs off our streets and prevented criminals from continuing to supply drugs.
“However, our operation is about more than just disrupting the supply lines. We are working with local organisations to get help for those who want it and during the national week of action we made 85 safeguarding visits to vulnerable young people.
“The police cannot tackle county lines offending alone, it can only be done in partnership with many other organisations and I’d like to thank all our partners who are as determined as we are to protect vulnerable young people and give them to support to get out or not get involved in the first place.”
Visit www.leics.police.uk/CountyLines for more information about county lines.
Visit www.livesafe.org.uk for advice for young people on how to stay safe in Leicestershire.