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County Lines’ drug gangs targeted

‘County lines’ drug gangs were targeted in a week of coordinated law enforcement activity across the UK last month, leading to more than 500 arrests, £312,649 cash and 46 weapons seized.

The activity, co-ordinated by the National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC), jointly run by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), was led by police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs). The work included warrants at addresses, visits to vulnerable people including those at risk of cuckooing, and engagement with private hire companies and others who are being exploited by county lines networks.

NCA County Lines lead and Director of Investigations Nikki Holland said: “Tackling county lines and the misery it causes is a national law enforcement priority and these results demonstrate the power of a whole-system response to a complex problem that we’re seeing in every area of the UK. We know that criminal networks use high levels of violence, exploitation and abuse to ensure compliance from the vulnerable people they employ to do the day-to-day drug supply activity.

“Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement officers there are now fewer drugs on the streets, more vulnerable people safeguarded and the public can be reassured that collectively we are committed to tackling serious and organised crime offenders and safeguarding victims.”

The NCA recent strategic assessment of organised crime reported that the number of ‘county lines’ drug supply lines typically from cities to provincial towns has increased from 720 to around 2000 in a little over a year.

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Nickie Aiken, London Councils’ Executive member for Schools and Children’s Services said: “These investigations have revealed how widespread exploitation of vulnerable young people is a disturbing feature of county lines. Too many children are being recruited as drug mules or human shields for county lines drug dealers. London boroughs are determined to do their utmost to protect young people from this terrible fate and raise awareness of this peril among local communities.”


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