A week of action targeting county lines drug crime in Warwickshire has seen 18 people arrested and more than £16,000 worth of class A drugs seized.
County lines is a term used to describe organised crime groups transporting drugs from bigger towns and cities into smaller and more rural areas. This is a national problem involving exploitation of people by criminals operating from larger cities across the country.
The activity in Warwickshire, which was aimed at protecting the most vulnerable and pursing criminals, was part of a national week of action targeting the problem.
Officers visited more than 130 vulnerable people in the county to check they were not being exploited by drug dealers and to raise awareness of the signs of exploitation.
They also seized more than £12,000 in cash, 13 phones, and a kitchen knife, as well as attending six crime prevention surgeries.
Warrants were executed in Rugby, Leamington, Warwick and Stratford. Proactive police work also led to several arrests by the Nuneaton Offender Management Unit.
Detective Superintendent Neil Harrison said: “For the past week we have proactively highlighted the work being done to tackle county lines crime in Warwickshire. In reality this is just a snapshot of the hard work going on every week.
“Organised crime groups use a county lines ‘business model’ to target the most vulnerable. They take over their premises to deal drugs from and they use young people to do their dirty work for them.
“Where there is county lines crime there is also an increase in violent crime as rival gangs come into conflict.
“By highlighting the good work I hope it gives local people confidence in our commitment to tackling an issue that blights so many lives and communities.
“I also hope it sends a strong message to drug dealers that we will continue to pursue you relentlessly.
“While the high profile warrants and arrests will no doubt grab the headlines, the engagement with vulnerable people was equally as important. The engagement ensures we offer support to help prevent them being exploited and allows us to build a better intelligence picture and generally make Warwickshire more hostile for county lines criminals.
“The hard work will continue. Many of our successes are a result of information provided by the public. It is important anyone who has any suspicions or concerns around the supply of drugs reports it.”
If you have any information that could help police tackle county lines drug crime please call 101. Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.