A SEVEN-DAY police campaign targeting County Lines networks resulted in the arrest of 74 suspected drug dealers across the West Midlands.
Last week (February 1-7) West Midlands Police carried out 31 warrants at addresses linked to cross-border drugs supply, seized thousands of pounds worth of cocaine and heroin. Weapons including firearms and combat knives were also recovered.
The week-long campaign targeted organised crime groups believed to be running cocaine and heroin networks out of the West Midlands.
Police say one of the biggest operation saw the force’s Coventry Gangs Unit team up with traffic officers and other units to intercept two 27-year-old men suspected of running a County Line into Warwickshire.
They arrested the pair from a BMW parked in The Uplands at around 3pm last Thursday (February 4) and seized a ball of compressed cocaine plus 70 dealer wraps.
Officers went on to search six houses in the city, arresting more people and seizing vehicles. A total of seven people were arrested in connection with the drugs operation.
Police also ran an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) operations looking for people moving drugs by road and worked with British Transport Police to identify any drugs runners using the rail system.
County Lines lead officer, Superintendent Rich Agar, said: “There has been no let-up in our determination to tackle County Lines offenders during Covid-19.
“Any offenders who thought we’d taken our foot off the gas got a shock last week: we arrested 74 people and in the wider West Midlands region there were 133 arrests.
“We also safeguarded 22 vulnerable people and visited 39 potential ‘cuckoo’ addresses – homes that could be targeted by dealers to use as drugs dens.
“Our work continues this week as, alongside partners in local authorities, health and charities, our focus turns to safeguarding and to divert young people who are vulnerable to County Lines exploitation away from criminal gangs and on to brighter futures.”
Waheed Saleem, the deputy Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Exploiters use young or vulnerable people to distribute drugs through County Lines activity. It’s a dangerous web to get caught up in and is destructive at every level – threatening the safety and damaging the health and prospects of the young people involved, their families, and their communities.
“Our Violence Reduction Unit works with a number of partners to offer young people a way out. Through support services in Accident and Emergency, Police Custody, in schools and in the community, we aim to be alongside them as they navigate their way out of complex and frightening situations.
“It’s terrifying for parents, siblings and for those who care about these young people to acknowledge what might be going on, and it can seem like you are alone. We are working to raise awareness of the early signs of exploitation and to support those who think it might be affecting their family or their community.”
Police intelligence suggests there are currently around 100 County Lines running out of Birmingham across the UK, to places as far afield as Cornwall and Scotland.