Police raid two houses in Harborough district villages as officers targeted County Lines drugs gangs
Across the county, 17 children and 10 adults caught up in the drugs trade were rescued and “safeguarded”
Police raided two houses in Harborough district villages as officers targeted County Lines drugs gangs across Leicestershire.
Special police teams swooped on the properties in Scraptoft and Tugby in the north of Harborough as they were backed up by the East Midlands Special Operation Unit.
They carried out the dramatic operation as a huge highly co-ordinated crackdown on notorious County Lines gangs was launched across the country.
Police executed 33 warrants in Leicestershire alone as they seized drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine as well as a significant haul of material, including cash.
Officers arrested 37 suspects as 17 children and 10 adults were rescued and “safeguarded”.
“County Lines intensification week involved the execution of warrants, protecting the vulnerable and intercepting vehicles potentially involved in County Lines activity,” said Leicestershire Police.
“County Lines export drugs into other areas of the country, often small towns, using dedicated mobile phone lines.
“They also exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store drugs and money, sometimes using coercion, intimidation and violence,” said the force.
“Warrants were executed throughout the week in hotspot areas such as Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton Mowbray and East and West Leicester.”
Police seized class A and B drug heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis, a large amount of cash, a Rolex watch, 29 phones, three laptops, numerous sets of scales, blank firing firearms and ammunition, a BB gun and a stolen car.
Some of the warrants were carried out with officers from the East Midlands Special Operation Unit.
Det Ch Insp Mark Sinski, of the force’s Intelligence Bureau, said: “It has been an incredibly successful week.
“Not just in terms of arrests and charges but also in the way we have worked with so many partners from community safety partnerships to education and social services, as well as drug intervention organisations such as Turning Point, to protect vulnerable people who are being exploited.
“Drugs have a very negative affect on people’s lives and blight communities by bringing crime and anti-social behaviour to their doorstep.”
He added: “There is no doubt in my mind that our enforcement action will have significantly disrupted the supply of drugs into our county towns.
“But we are not complacent and will continue to focus on this priority area with more warrants already planned.”
Meanwhile, Leicestershire Police’s Children and Young Persons Officer Katie Hudson and Substance Misuse Officer James Edmondston have run 11 County Lines workshops on Microsoft Teams.
They spoke to 2,808 pupils, 98 teachers and 466 adults who work with young people.
The workshops are designed to help adults spot the signs of criminal exploitation in young people and warn teenagers of the dangers of getting involved in county lines.
Over 2,000 professionals including sports coaches, teachers and youth workers have now booked on to attend an online workshop.
Leicestershire Police also carried out a joint operation with British Transport Police at Leicester Railway Station using a knife arch and police dog looking for people carrying a weapon.
They carried out nine stop searches.
Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “An enormous amount of hard work goes into the planning and execution of these intense weeks of action but the excellent results speak for themselves.
“We have taken a large amount of drugs off our streets and arrested people whose actions blight communities and prey on the vulnerable.
“I’m glad that we’ve been able to safeguard vulnerable adults and young people - and refer them on to other agencies to get the help and support they need.
“My thanks go to everyone involved.”
Rupert Matthews, the force’s new Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I observed joint operations between Leicestershire Police and British Transport Police at Leicester Station during County Lines week.
“I was deeply impressed by the dedication and skills shown by Leicestershire Police and British Transport Police when confronting criminal activity.
“County Lines week was a demonstration of an intelligence-led operation.
“It serves to counter drug smugglers who are exploiting vulnerable children and using them as a way of getting harmful and illegal drugs into our city and two counties.”
He added: “Prevention strategies like this are not just a great demonstration of reacting to and stopping crime but also a great way of deterring criminals.
“I must say that the police have been doing a fantastic job and it is teamwork like no other.
“I look forward to seeing some great results.”
To find out more about County Lines visit www.leics.police.uk/CountyLines and www.leics.police.uk/AreYouListening
To watch a video of police carrying out dramatic raids on County Lines gangs visit the Leicestershire Police webpage here: https://www.leics.police.uk/news/leicestershire/news/2021/may/significant-arrests-made-in-county-lines-week-of-action/