WEST Midlands Police raided almost 50 addresses and arrested dozens of suspected drug dealers last week as part of a national offensive on County Lines networks.
The campaign, from May 17-23 saw officers working with neighbouring police forces in a coordinated blitz on organised crime groups believed to be running cocaine and heroin supply chains out of the West Midlands.
To see a video of one of the raids, click here
They arrested 84 people from across the region and seized an array of weapons, including a sawn-off shotgun and a blank firer converted to discharge live ammunition, and recovered more than 500 wraps of Class A drugs and around £13,000 in cash.
In one arrest on May 17 a quick-thinking officer commandeered a teenager’s electric scooter to chase him down after witnessing a suspected drug deal on a Coventry street.
The teenager – who abandoned his e-scooter in his eagerness to run off – was arrested and a bag containing £300 and 60 bags of cannabis was recovered.
A search of his home uncovered more drugs, a homemade ‘shank’ and £1,000 in cash.
One notable warrant came two days later in Wensleydale Road, Birmingham, where £5,000 in cash, several ‘burner’ phones, our drone spotted a man running into the rear garden; he was quickly arrested on suspicion of drugs supply.
It’s believed the 32-year-old is involved in a County Line running between Birmingham and Worcester.
During an operation at Sutton Coldfield train station on May 19 police seized 20 wraps of what’s believed to be Class A drugs from a 17-year-old who tried avoiding the force’s metal detecting knife arches.
In addition to the enforcement police also reached out to children across the region to raise awareness of the dangers of being lured into County Lines drug dealing.
The lead for County Lines, Supt Wendy Bailey, said: “We ran more than 120 County Lines awareness and education sessions at schools, plus visited more than 130 children who are believed to be at risk of exploitation.
“During one school visit in Coventry we took along one of our drones and police dogs to help engage with pupils and open up conversations about the dangers of County Lines drug dealing.
“We’ve had cases in the past of children being lured into it with promises of easy money and designer clothes – but the reality was being holed up in a drugs den miles from home, in awful conditions, and being forced to carry out street deals. It’s a very dangerous environment for anyone, let alone a child.
“Last week was a focused operation on County Lines but it’s a problem we’re tackling every day of the week. We have a dedicated County Lines taskforce and are regularly closing down and disrupting lines and securing long jail terms against offenders.”
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said: “This activity to disrupt county lines gangs helps us protect young people from exploitation as well as tackling the drug barons responsible.
“I am committed to protecting vulnerable people who are being ruthlessly exploited and the Violence Reduction Unit are working tirelessly to keep young people safe.
“I joined one of the West Midlands Police gang’s teams last week to understand more about the work they are doing with partners in local authorities to protect and safeguard young people who may be, or have been, drawn into county lines .
“Our children should be seen as children first and foremost and should be able to grow up feeling safe and cared for.”
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