A crackdown on county lines drug activities has lead to 20 being arrested in Warwickshire.
The arrests were made during a week-long operation (October 11 to 15), which was coordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
County lines involves groups travelling from large urban areas to smaller county locations on a regular basis to sell drugs, collect drugs and deliver cash.
The groups may challenge existing ones from the area or other group in a bid to take over the local market, which can cause an increase in violent incidents.
They can also use local properties as a base for their activities often acquired by force or coercion – referred to as ‘cuckooing.’
Warrants took place in locations including Nuneaton and Bedworth where officers found suspected heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis.
As part of their work, officers also carried out vehicle stops, visits to people at risk of exploitation, training and awareness sessions at schools, colleges, hotels and transport companies, while they also engaged with local communities.
In total, 20 people were arrested – six of whom have since been charged and 14 were released under investigation or bailed – with more than £33,000 in cash seized as well as machetes, knives, baseball bats and in excess of 20 mobile phones.
Several vulnerable people were also identified and will be provided with the relevant support.
Speaking following the week-long crackdown, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Reader said: “The force continues to work tirelessly in its bid to tackle, disrupt and dismantle drugs supply as well as doing everything we can to protect those young and vulnerable individuals who are often exploited by this in our communities.
“The week involved us working with various departments in the force as well as alongside our partner agencies and we are delighted with the outcome as we know it will have a positive impact across the county.
“Our overriding aim is to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities from harm while bringing offenders to justice and we will continue to pursue and prosecute those who bring drugs into our counties, commit violence and exploit vulnerable members of our communities.
“Our message is clear - if you come to Warwickshire to deal drugs you are not welcome and we are looking out for you.
“Although this was an intense week of activity, our disruption work will not stop. Tackling county lines drug dealing remains a priority for the force but we need the public to continue to report suspicious activity and help us tackle the issue.
“The information you provide may be the missing piece of the jigsaw that helps us to arrest a criminal, seize drugs or protect a vulnerable person so please get in touch.”
Anyone with suspicions that a property is being used to sell drugs from, or that a young and/or vulnerable individual may be becoming involved with county lines drug dealing is asked to report it online or call 101.
Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.