Officers across the North West have been carrying out a range of activities as part of a national focus to tackle county lines, which has led to the arrest of 97 people and the seizure of significant quantities of heroin, crack cocaine and other illegal drugs.
The clampdown on county drugs lines, which started on Monday (21st January) was coordinated by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) and saw officers from six forces, along with the regional disruption team, the National Crime Agency, and other partner agencies carry out operations across the North West to disrupt offenders and safeguard vulnerable people.
During the week, enforcement activity involved executing search warrants, gathering intelligence and arresting people already serving prison sentences on new evidence.
Across the region, more than 97 arrests were made, 10 weapons and significant quantities of class A and B drugs seized, and over £15,000 of cash recovered.
County Lines is when criminal gangs from big cities across the UK use violence and intimidation to expand their drug network within their region, and into suburban areas, such as market and coastal towns across the country. They exploit young people and vulnerable adults to move and sell the drugs and ‘cuckoo’ the homes of vulnerable or drug-addicted people, taking them over and using their property as a drugs base.
The gangs use a single mobile phone line to communicate with drugs users, often making up to £5k per day. There are estimated to be over 2000 active lines in operation across the UK.
Regional activity during the week of action included; visits to vulnerable people, including those at risk of cuckooing, as well as officer engagement with commercial accommodation providers and private hire drivers, who may come into contact with offenders or those being exploited by county lines groups.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Chris Green from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) said: “Whilst this week’s intensification across the region will have undoubtedly disrupted numerous county lines, we will continue to work with forces and our partners to strengthen our regional response to county lines.”
“We’re committed to dismantling these criminal networks and to protecting the young and vulnerable people who are exploited by gangs and are subject to this violence, fear and intimidation.”