Shropshire Star

Nearly half a million pounds of drugs seized in 'County Lines' operations

Illegal drugs worth nearly half a million pounds were seized in 'County Lines' operations over the past year, according to the region's police force.

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West Mercia Police said that from April 2022 to March 2023 more than 300 people were arrested over the offences, with a total of £446,328 worth of drugs recovered.

The issue of County Lines has become a growing focus in recent years – where drug dealing gangs exploit children and young people, recruiting them to run drugs and cash between urban and county locations on their behalf.

Vulnerable adults, such as those dependent on alcohol or drug use are also targeted, with drug dealers often taking over their home to deal drugs – a practice known as cuckooing.

Detective Chief Inspector Oliver Ewels said: “During the last 12 months, we have relentlessly pursued County Lines drug dealers who have a devastating impact on our communities. The results are a huge achievement, but we will not rest on our success.

“County Lines drug dealing will remain a priority for West Mercia Police. Our dedicated County Lines teams will continue to root out the drug dealers and exploiters who care only about profits and not the children and other vulnerable people they exploit. Working with our partners, we will make our counties hostile places for those involved in County Lines networks."

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “Since I was first elected in 2016, I have remained focused on supporting West Mercia Police with the resources and tools it needs to disrupt drugs supply by closing county lines.

“It is brilliant to see this sustained investment and focus making a real difference over the past year with strong police action, through proactive policing and organised operations, helping to close a record number of county lines in West Mercia and more than 300 dangerous criminals taken off our streets.

“As your voice in policing, I hear too often from residents about the damage drugs have caused in their communities so I am fully aware this is not job done. That’s why I am calling on even more progress as I continue to deliver on my pledge to build a more secure West Mercia."

The force said that a total of 336 people were arrested, 99 were charged, £95,000 in cash was seized, 78 county lines phone lines closed or disrupted, and 100 people were safeguarded.

West Mercia Police said that anyone with suspicions that a property is being used to sell drugs, or that a young and vulnerable individual may be getting involved with County Lines drug dealing, can report it online under the 'Tell Us About' section at or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.