From Devon & Cornwall Police:
If people thought the South West was a soft target for the supply of drugs, think again.
This week, Monday 9 October to Friday 13 October, police across Devon have been targeting dangerous drug networks as part of a large-scale operation into drug dealing in the county.
Officers carried out a number of arrests in a major crackdown of suspected drug suppliers. So far this week, 11 people have been arrested with over 20 charges stemming from the arrests as part of the crackdown.
Det Supt Ken Lamont said: “This activity, named Operation Cleft, is the result of us talking to the community and listening to their concerns about the sale and use of drugs in the area.
“This week, we worked together as one team to safeguard communities and neighbourhoods by targeting dangerous drugs networks, referred to as ‘DNN’s’ – a term used for urban gangs supplying drugs into our local market and coastal towns.
“The operation is a campaign with police and other agencies to find long-term solutions to restricting the supply of drugs, reducing demand and rebuilding communities.”
The Chairman of the Safer Devon Partnership, Dr Virginia Pearson, said: “We fully support the actions of the police in using their powers to tackle this problem and prevent it from escalating. This is an issue that involves the whole Safer Devon Partnership, and our focus is not only on supporting the police to bring offenders to justice but also on protecting our most vulnerable individuals and communities from their criminal activities.”
Det Supt Ken Lamont continued: “This operation is targeting the supply of Class A drugs heroin and crack cocaine with the ultimate aim of to disrupt some of the major supply lines into the county and maximise the provision of safeguarding activity to vulnerable people who suffer exposure to DNN’s.
“National, regional and local learning has shown how DDN’s target vulnerability in many guises to move both drugs and money. This includes the exploitation of children, the exploitation of vulnerable adults, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation of women. Gangs can typically take over the homes of local vulnerable adults in a term referred to as ‘cuckooing’.
“We have developed our understanding of the vulnerability of traditional street dealers who may have previously been viewed as offenders. However, often these are vulnerable people who are used by suppliers to run drugs. DNN’s target the most vulnerable in society and we are here to protect them.
“Intelligence and ongoing proactive work show that Class A drugs are being supplied across Devon by organised crime groups utilising members of the public who originate from the Metropolitan area of London, Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands areas.”
Arrests and searches have been carried out at addresses throughout the city this week with the operation running for another day. A significant amount of Cannabis, heroin and cocaine have been seized during the searches.
Det Supt Ken Lamont added: “We have used methods of intelligence to identify and locate suspects to be arrested. This has been led by our Pro-Active Team and assisted by Intelligence teams, FSG and PDU.
“Detectives have worked through the night to secure over 20 charges to date and most suspects have subsequently been remanded in custody. Neighbourhood Teams have been visible throughout the community to reassure the public. We have worked with partners to close down addresses associated with drugs and anti-social behaviour.
“The week of action was not only about taking action against those suspected of being involved in drugs. It was also about offering help and support. Numerous people were referred to support services during the week to hopefully provide them with the help and support they need to escape alcohol and drug misuse.
“We are committed to tackling drugs in the area. The operation is a sustained response to the potential threat, risk and harm to Devon communities, linked to the activities of the Organised Crime Networks.
“Months of work has been carried out by officers and we hope it will reassure local residents that police are taking the issue extremely seriously.”
Police are keen to hear from anyone who is concerned about illegal drugs or drug-related crime in their neighbourhood. If anyone believes their neighbours are being cuckooed or having their addresses taken over, especially if vulnerable, they should report this immediately.
The support we receive from local people is vital in helping us make our communities safer and every piece of information is greatly appreciated.
If you have any concerns, contact police via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 101. If you don’t want to speak to the police directly, you can call the anonymous Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.