Video: Police arrest 40 suspects during week-long crackdown on county lines drug dealers across Leicestershire
Officers carried out three raids in Market Harborough as part of the operation
Police arrested 40 suspects as they launched an intense week-long crackdown on county lines drug dealers across Leicestershire.
Officers carried out three raids in Market Harborough as they seized £38,000 cash throughout the county as well as Class A and B drugs and dangerous weapons.
The high-powered operation went ahead as part of a national week of action led by the National Crime Agency (NCA) backed by police forces all over the country.
Police executed 31 search warrants all over Leicestershire.
They raided three properties in Market Harborough at Riverside Court, off Farndon Road, Jubilee Gardens and Angell Drive on Farndon Fields.
Police did not make any arrests in the town.
But officers seized property which may be linked to drug dealing.
Click here to watch a video of the operation.
“County lines gangs 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 Leicestershire Police.
“During the week, officers executed 31 search warrants across Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland as well as carrying out numerous stop searches at train stations and in hotspot areas across the neighbourhoods.
“The force also ran three ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) operations looking to target vehicles suspected to be involved with county lines activity.
“The searches saw more than £38,000 worth of cash being recovered, as well as class A and B drugs, including a large number of cannabis plants.”
Police also seized two stolen vehicles, a number of knives, a stun gun and three imitation hand guns.
Of the 40 arrested three people have been charged with drug offences, three have been remanded after being wanted on warrants issued by the courts and 15 were released under investigation.
Three were given community resolutions, one was given a conditional caution, seven were freed on police bail and the rest released with no further action.
Det Ch Insp Mark Sinski, of the Force Intelligence Bureau, said: “Our enforcement activity has been extremely successful, leading to a significant number of arrests.
“Not only has the force prevented further criminal exploitation associated with county lines, but it’s also identified 20 vulnerable individuals whose safety and well-being was severely at risk.
“These people have now been safeguarded and are being supported by both police and partners.”
He added: “Safeguarding and protecting our communities is paramount which is why our work to protect and prevent this type of crime is just as important as the enforcement activity.
“Last week we visited a number of cuckooed addresses, engaged with those living there, giving them the support they need and referring them on to partner agencies where necessary.
“Neighbourhood officers were also carrying out pro-active patrols in their areas, visiting residents and posting county lines leaflets and posters to raise awareness around the signs of county lines as well as encouraging those to report criminal activity to us.”
Leicestershire Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “This is the fourth time we have carried out enforcement activity as part of a national week of action and again we have arrested a number of people for county lines criminality.
“Our work to tackle this issue is very much part of daily business and we will continue in our efforts to raise awareness of the issue and what our communities can do to help.”
Mr Cole insisted: “Everyone has a part to play in tacking these issues.
“I encourage people to make sure they are aware of the signs and report any criminal activity of this nature by reporting online or calling 101.”
Children & Young Persons Officer Katie Hudson and James Edmondston, Substance Misuse Officer, joined police to engage with people at railway stations.
Katie and James also ran county lines workshops on Microsoft Teams, speaking with both teachers and students.
The sessions were attended virtually by 10 local schools as over 1,800 students took part.
Katie said: “County lines gangs are recruiting young people, through promises of quick cash and a glamorous lifestyle, then sending them out to small towns and rural areas to peddle their drugs.
“Once involved, young people can often feel trapped into a cycle of criminality they are unable to escape from.
“It’s essential children understand the dangers of getting involved with gangs and also know from a young age how to spot the signs of county lines and who they can go to for support.”
To find out more about county lines visit: https://www.leics.police.uk/countylines/