From Devon & Cornwall Police:
Devon and Cornwall Police have arrested 19 people, seized thousands of pounds of suspected drugs and £81,000 cash as part of a national crackdown to target County Lines drug gangs.
Officers joined police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units across the UK for a national week of action to disrupt the activity of suspected County Lines networks.
The enforcement activity was led by the National County Lines Coordination Centre, which is jointly run by the National Crime Agency and the National Police Chiefs Council.
County Lines is the term used to describe urban gangs supplying drugs to other parts of the UK using dedicated mobile phone lines.
The gangs are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults in order to move and store drugs and money, often using coercion, intimidation, violence and weapons.
Drug dealers commonly use the method of cuckooing where they target vulnerable individuals and move into their home to use it as a base to operate a drug supply network.
In Devon and Cornwall, the week of activity included warrants at addresses, plus visits to vulnerable people believed at risk of cuckooing and others being exploited by suspected drug networks.
Between 13 and 20 May:
· 19 people were arrested – 16 men and three women.
· 33 vulnerable adults and two children were engaged for safeguarding purposes.
· 49 suspected ‘cuckooed’ addresses were visited.
· Officers seized £81,187 in cash.
· Suspected Class A drugs, including around £7,000 of cocaine, 45 wraps of heroin, crack cocaine, plus suspected cannabis and unknown tablets were also seized.
· Seven weapons were seized including knives, an Uzi airsoft BB gun and an axe.
· Nine mobile phones were seized, plus £25,000 of designer goods.
Detective Superintendent Antony Hart said: “Tackling County Lines to disrupt the activity of such criminal networks and the misery they cause remains a key priority for us.
“Throughout the week we have taken action against suspected individuals as well as giving support to young people and vulnerable people who are at risk from County Lines. Young people and vulnerable adults are exposed to physical and mental abuse from these organised networks, and in some instances are trafficked to places a long way from home.
“Thanks to the hard work of officers this week there are now fewer drugs on the streets, more people have been safeguarded and we can reassure the public that we are committed to tackling serious and organised crime. This week sends a clear message that we will do all that we can to disrupt County Lines gangs and prevent the vulnerable from being exploited.”
If you have any information about a suspected drug-related activity or if you have concerns about vulnerable people who are potentially being exploited, contact Devon and Cornwall Police via firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 101.
To find out more information about County Lines please visit the website.