County Lines: Police arrest 53 people after six-week operation bringing down drug gangs in south-east London

Katherine Johnston (22 October, 2020)

Two young victims of gang exploitation are now receiving specialist help

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Fifty-three people were arrested and £63,000 in criminal cash seized after a six-week operation targeting organised criminals and county lines gangs in south-east London.

The arrests were the result of a series of early morning raids across Greenwich, Bexley, and further into Kent and the Thames Valley after five months of undercover investigation of 33 county lines running out of London.

Six women and 47 men, aged between sixteen and 48, were arrested on suspicion of a range of offences including: possession of firearms and ammunition; possession of offensive weapons; possession of criminal property; possession with intent to supply class A and B drugs, and supply of class A and B drugs.

£63,000 in cash was seized along with 320 grams of crack cocaine, 150 grams of heroin and a quantity of cannabis was recovered along with weapons including firearms, knives and knuckle dusters.

Cars worth £45,000, and £40,000 worth of Rolex watches – all believed to be the proceeds of crime – were also recovered.

During the operation police also identified two young victims of gang exploitation who are now receiving specialist help.

Detective Inspector Jo Gresham, who led the operation, said: “Operations like this one, which disrupt county lines drug supply and dealing, and target the criminal exploitation of vulnerable people, are vital because we know that this type of criminality drives a high proportion of violent crime in London.

“We carried out a huge amount of investigative work behind the scenes before conducting these warrants, showing that not only do we take a zero-tolerance approach to drug supply, but we’re absolutely committed to making the streets in which the local community lives safer.

“This operation was also aimed at identifying and cracking down on the exploitation of children, who can be manipulated into carrying out criminal acts. 

“During this operation we have identified two young people who were victims of this type of exploitation, who we are now safeguarding and working with to give them the support they need.

“I would urge anyone who may have information about any criminality in their area to contact police, or Crimestoppers, so that we can take proactive action – your information is invaluable to us.”

If you don’t want to speak to the police, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They are a totally independent charity and you will remain 100% anonymous – they never ask your name and they cannot trace your call, your IP address or the device you use. Alternatively, visit their website https://crimestoppers-uk.org/.

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