County Lines: Crackdown sees 23 networks taken down in just one week

Katherine Johnston (30 September, 2020)

Over 250 people were arrested

30555Photo: Stock

Twenty-three county lines drug networks were taken down by police in a single week after the force’s largest ever crackdown.

Between September 14 and 20, over 250 people were arrested after the joint operation with the National Crime Agency and National Police Chiefs’ Council.

More than £45,000 in cash and drugs with a street value of over £120,000 were seized.

County lines gangs enlist young people to carry and sell drugs from London and other major cities into rural areas.

Recovered cash and drugs

They often take over the homes of vulnerable people – addicts, or those with mental health conditions or physical disabilities – to use as a base for their illegal trade.

In this operation 85 vulnerable children and adults were identified and 24 ‘cuckooed’ addresses.

Police also seized 60 weapons seized including five firearms.

Since November 2019, a total of 194 county lines have been busted by coordinated efforts across the country. Police say investigations that previously took months are now being completed within weeks.

In all, more than 1500 people have been charged with approximately 3,000 offences including murder, attempted murder, drug supply and weapon offences.

64 per cent of those subsequently charged had previous convictions for violence, 65 per cent had convictions for carrying weapons, 70 per cent for drug supply and 69 per cent are affiliated to a London street gang, say police.

The Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Graham McNulty, said: “There is a direct link between county lines and violence on the streets of London, as is evident through the lethal weapons we seized over the last week.

“Tackling violence remains our top priority and that’s why our efforts in this area will not diminish, they will continue and increase in the coming weeks.

“We have carried out hundreds of investigations with forces all the way from Scotland down to Devon and Cornwall and in recent months have disrupted some of the most violent County Lines across the UK.”

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