Police have seized firearms and other weapons and arrested 63 suspects as they targeted County Lines drug gangs in Leicestershire.
Officers also executed 38 warrants and visited 54 vulnerable people as they backed a national mission of high-profile action targeting drug rackets.
Police also seized cash, drugs, guns and a range of other weapons as part of County Lines Intensification Week from Monday March 7 to Sunday March 13.
Highlights of the county-wide police crackdown include:
63 people arrested and the complete dismantling of three lines from Nottingham and Birmingham
38 search warrants executed
Force-wide and local Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) operations across the week throughout Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland leading to 16 arrests and 10 vehicles recovered
Knife arch and passive drugs dog deployed to train stations in Leicester, Hinckley and Melton Mowbray in partnership with British Transport Police
Seizure of more than £30,000 in cash
Seizure of two viable handguns
Seizure of a variety of other weapons, including machetes, knives, baseball bats, knuckle dusters and weighted chains
Seizure of a large quantity of controlled drugs including heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, cannabis, cannabis edibles and synthetic cannabinoids
54 vulnerable children and adults identified and safeguarded
Extensive engagement with children, parents and professionals highlighting the danger of involvement in County Lines activity
‘Are You Listening?’ presentations given to 6026 children and young people and 367 professionals/parents and carers.
Ch Supt Johnny Starbuck, of Leicestershire Police, said: “Thanks to this national week of action, we have arrested some significant individuals, closed down three lines and taken a large quantity of drugs off our streets.
“As well as enforcement activity, a major focus for us is protecting vulnerable people who are drawn into the world of drug dealing. “Whether that’s young people who are forced to sell drugs on behalf of gangs, or those who are forced to let drug dealers use their homes as a base for selling drugs in a form of exploitation known as ‘cuckooing’.
“They often don’t realise they are being criminally exploited.
“But with the right support from us, and our partners, they can get the help they need and my thanks go to all the agencies who supported us this week and for their ongoing efforts throughout the year,” said Ch Supt Starbuck.
County Lines’ activity involves people from cities and bigger towns travelling to smaller county towns to sell drugs, 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,” warned police.
“They can also be forced to let drug dealers use their homes as a base for selling drugs in a form of exploitation known as ‘cuckooing’.”
Throughout March, Alter Ego Creative Solutions is delivering a theatre production on county lines.
They will present 40 sessions into 26 schools and academies reaching almost 7,000 secondary school students.
To find out more about county lines visit: https://www.leics.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/cl/county-lines/
There is a new website for young people to get help on how to stay safe in Leicestershire: https://livesafe.org.uk/