Shropshire Star

Over 100 arrests, drugs and weapons seized in taskforce County Lines crackdown

Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of hard drugs was seized and more than 100 arrests made in a major new crackdown on County Lines dealing.

County Lines campaign arrests

The intensive campaign resulted in a total of 110 drug dealers suspected of being involved in supply chains for heroin and cocaine being caught across the region.

The haul also saw five firearms, more than 30 knives and three Tasers, one of which was disguised as a mobile phone, recovered.

Seized drugs

Officers for West Midlands, Warwickshire, West Mercia and Staffordshire police forces took part in cross-border operations in a bid to dismantle trafficking networks.

The effort saw them armed with 40 drugs warrants to carry out raids, make the arrests and confiscate class A drugs worth around £96,000. In addition 760 cannabis plants along with dried cannabis worth more than £160,000 was seized.

As a result of the action which was part of a national drive the officers closed 19 dealing lines and seized more than £176,000 in cash.

Seized cannabis

The move saw officers carry out plain clothes operations, high-visibility patrols with drugs dogs and knife arches set up at transport hubs.

It included efforts to protect children and vulnerable adults from drug dealers who operate using mobile phone lines - between urban areas and county towns. Teenagers are often offered expensive gifts to transport drugs while vulnerable adults homes are taken over for use as drugs dens known as 'cuckooing'.

In total 108 people, including 80 aged under 18, were given safeguarding support.

The cross-border teams visited 30 addresses believed to be cuckoo premises to stop the dealing and check on the affected householders.

West Midlands Police said sometimes such people the officers encountered during raids were being exploited and damage being done to their wellbeing.

County Lines Intensification Week leader Chief Superintendent Ian Green said: "It's been a really positive week of action with West Midlands Police teaming up with neighbouring forces to tackle cross-border drugs crime.

“We've secured some notable arrests, got some significant quantities of drugs off our streets and broken up a number of supply networks.

A raid

"But we've also been able to safeguard more than 100 vulnerable people, including children, who were suspected to be at risk of exploitation by drug gangs.

"Our commitment to dismantling these networks and protecting our young and vulnerable people goes on every day of the week with the work of our dedicated County Lines Taskforce.

"We know we need to stop youngsters from getting drawn into County Lines with the lure of money, status and sense of belonging it appears to offer - but which all too often turns into a life of violence, fear and intimidation.

“If anyone is concerned that a child or someone they know is being exploited by dealers, or suspects a property in their community is being used by drugs gangs then I’d urge them to get in touch so we can take action."

Help was also offered to vulnerable residents include pathways to get out and where to get support.

In addition officers spoke to children across the region to raise awareness of the dangers of being lured into drugs networks. They visited dozens of schools, sports clubs, retail parks and fast food outlets to talk about how drugs lines work.

The force added that it understood that protecting youngsters from being targeted by drugs gangs was important and that due to the campaign almost 2,000 people, including social workers, teachers, foster carers, support workers as well as police officers have signed up to training sessions to spot signs of County Lines activity and the support available for those who want help.

In December the forces revamped its taskforce programme to address the issue by identifying dealers who have been moving drugs from the West Midlands into shire counties and small towns and taking action against them.