27 arrests as drugs, weapons and £35k cash seized in county lines crackdown

A crackdown on county lines drugs crime in West Mercia saw 27 people arrested and police seize weapons and more than £35,000 in cash.

A two-week period last month saw police target areas in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine and cannabis were seized during the operation, along with more than £35,000 in cash, 20 mobile phones and weapons including knives and an imitation hand gun.

West Mercia Police officers visited ‘cuckooed’ homes believed to be used and exploited by drug dealers.

The police force confirmed that they identified and safeguarded vulnerable people at risk of being exploited.

Officers also engaged in education activity with fast food outlets, care homes, schools, local authorities, petrol stations and travel hubs across the counties.

Chief Superintendent Damian Barratt said: “West Mercia Police is no different to any other police force across the country where county lines drug dealers are exploiting vulnerable children, young people and adults.

“Organised crime groups are targeting our local communities and exploiting vulnerable people to transport drugs into our counties.

Situations

"In a practice known as cuckooing, offenders often seek to take over the homes of vulnerable people to further facilitate drug dealing.

“These groups are often involved in serious violence and do not think twice about putting young and vulnerable people in frightening situations, causing them to make decisions that can ultimately change their lives and the lives of others forever.

"We are determined to do all we can to stop this from happening.

“We’re committed to tackling serious and organised crime as part of our ‘Protect’ campaign.

"Despite the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, this criminality continues and no matter what the circumstances, our officers are here 24/7 365 days a year to protect people from harm.”

Oswestry Police Inspector Claire Greenaway told councillors that a multi-force operation targeting county lines offenders had taken place in the town in February.

"There were a number of arrests for drug-related offences.

"It was a significant operation and lays testament to the information that is passed onto us," she added.

To report concerns about county lines visit the Tell Us About section of westmercia.police.uk

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org

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