County Lines drugs gangs disrupted by special police operation across the region
Officers across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire have been taking part in a joint operation to challenge and disrupt County Lines drugs gangs.
Operation Radar is a targeted initiative between local policing areas, force intelligence teams and Operation Policing Units.
The aim of the operation was and remains tackling those involved in County Lines and their criminal use of the West Mercia road network.
Detective Constable Chris Stockton, the force County Lines Coordinator, said: “West Mercia Police utilised national and regional funds which were made available solely to support this operation, which took place during the first two weeks of January 2023."
County Lines, the name given to the process and operation of drugs transported from predominately larger urban areas to smaller towns, often in rural areas, refers to the mobile numbers used to order the drugs. The competition between rival gangs invariably sees innocent people caught up in the struggle for control of the drug dealing, police say.
“County Lines drug dealers will often exploit children and younger people by 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 then be targeted and their property taken over by drug dealers in a local area. This a practice known as ‘cuckooing’.
“During just this two-week period, we were able to arrest 10 people for offences including possession with intent to supply, being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, threats to kill and drug driving, significantly disrupting two Lines in Kidderminster and Redditch.
"We issued numerous tickets for driving offences, referred one child to a local authority for safeguarding who was in a vehicle with adults that had Class A drugs in their possession, seized sizeable amounts of trafficked drugs believed to be heroin and crack cocaine worth thousands of pounds and seized and confiscated eight vehicles for various offences.
“It is important to remember that while an initiative such as Operation Radar highlights a specific activity, day in, day out our officers and staff are working hard and often in dangerous situations, to tackle County Lines gangs. We are all committed to disrupting and dismantling their drugs supply, protecting children and young people, and safeguarding those who could be vulnerable to exploitation.
“Serious and organised crime and County Lines drug dealing remain a high priority for West Mercia Police and is everyone’s business. We want to make each of the three counties no-go areas for criminals travelling from elsewhere.
“Day and night, we will continue to pursue and prosecute those who bring drugs, violence and intimidation into our communities and who have no issue in exploiting the vulnerable or hurting the ones we love.”
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 at westmercia.police.uk - or information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
More information for children and young people about County Lines can be found by visiting fearless.org, where you can access non-judgemental information and advice about crime and criminality.