£27,000 of drugs and 38 weapons seized in Shropshire county lines crackdown

More than £27,000 worth of drugs and 38 weapons weapons were seized in a crackdown on County Lines drug dealing in Shropshire.

County officers also arrested 20 suspected drugs dealers and closed one organised crime operation in a week-long campaign.

West Mercia Police officers were supporting the National Crime Agency's County Lines Intensification Week from February 27 to March 5.

County Lines drug dealers often exploit children and young people, recruiting them to run drugs and cash between urban and county locations and to deal drugs on their behalf. Once recruited into County Lines it can be difficult for those being exploited to leave, with fear and threats of violence used to keep them in place.

Vulnerable adults, such as those dependent on drug use, will also be targeted and their property taken over by drug dealers in a local area, a practice known as cuckooing.

In Shropshire, the force also seized £3,551 in cash, 37 phones and two vehicles, as well as making 25 cuckooing visits and eight safeguarding referrals.

Across the force area, weapons seized included replica guns, knives, machetes and batons. The force considers this latest campaign to be its most successful County Lines week to date.

Detective Chief Inspector Oliver Ewels said: “Education and early intervention is just as important in preventing exploitation and protecting our communities from County Lines drug dealers and gangs. During County Lines Intensification Week officers and staff across the force visited schools, social care providers, health professionals and community venues to raise awareness of the County Lines model and to highlight the signs that someone may be involved, or at risk of being exploited by drug dealers and gangs.

“It is vital to remember that operations such as these during this national week of intensification are very much ‘business as usual’ for all of our staff, and highlight the great and often dangerous work they do throughout the year. The collection and development of intelligence is key to understanding the county lines picture in our communities, the gathering and preparation that goes into making arrests and disrupting county lines have been, in some cases, weeks and months in the making.

“Serious and Organised Crime and County Lines drug dealing remains a priority for West Mercia Police. We will work tirelessly to make sure our communities are unwelcoming for criminals travelling across our policing borders. We will continue to prioritise the pursuit and prosecution of those who bring drugs into our counties, commit violence, and exploit vulnerable members of our communities.”

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