Staffordshire Police safeguarded 14 people, seized almost one kilo of cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin, worth more than £75,000, and closed four county lines in their most successful intensification week yet.
The operation saw local officers and detectives proactively target individuals and locations to disrupt drugs supply across Staffordshire, as well as identifying and protecting vulnerable victims.
County lines is the name given to drug dealing where organised criminal groups (OCGs) move and supply drugs, usually from cities into smaller towns and rural areas, supported by a dedicated drugs phone line.
Criminal groups often target children, young adults or vulnerable people who may be coerced through grooming, threats or violence.
Staffordshire Police officers arrested 26 people across the Force as part of County Lines Intensification Week, which ran from Monday 9 October to Sunday 15 October.
A total of 14 vulnerable people were also safeguarded after officers visited 46 addresses of potential victims of cuckooing. Cuckooing is when criminals, often associated with organised drug gangs, target vulnerable members of the community and take over their home. They will then exploit the person who lives there and use the property for criminality including for the storage or trafficking of drugs.
During the week, as a result of community concerns and intelligence, almost £5,000 in cash and 932 cannabis plants were seized, along with more than 900 grams of class A drugs.
As a result of Staffordshire Police’s work, they were able to close four county drug lines as well as seize a large number of dangerous weapons and illegal knives.
In addition to their operational efforts, they also delivered more than 80 county lines awareness sessions in a number of schools across Staffordshire, and undertook leaflet drops and online engagement sessions to help communities spot the signs of exploitation and enable the police to signpost those at-risk to the relevant support groups.
Detective Superintendent Nicki Addison, from Staffordshire Police’s Major and Organised Crime Department, said:
“Although we proactively target county lines criminality throughout the year, this intensification week gave us the opportunity to work as team across the force and with partners to target those causing harm in our communities. This helped us to identify those causing harm, bring people to justice whilst also stopping four major drug lines operating in Staffordshire.
“This was the largest number of drugs we’ve seized and the greatest number of county lines we’ve closed down during an intensification week.
“There was a massive effort across the force but special recognition should go to the force’s Major and Organised Crime proactive teams, who worked relentlessly and long hours to ensure those arrested were charged and remanded in custody. Nine were charged and remanded with offences ranging from possession with intent to supply class A drugs, acquiring criminal property and producing cannabis.
“Going forwards, with our partners, we are committed to tackling this criminality through targeting the crime groups responsible, ensuring that we continue to protect our most vulnerable and make Staffordshire a safe place for our communities.
“We would also like to thank the public for their support and reporting their concerns to us. We are encouraging the public to continue to report their concerns to us so we can take appropriate action and tackle the supply of illegal drugs in Staffordshire.”
Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime Ben Adams said:
“There is no such thing as victimless drug use – drugs can be a major factor in a range of crimes, from acquisitive crimes to fund addiction, to knife crime and other serious violence offences.
“County lines also damages the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities, exploiting children and others to carry, store and sell the drugs, and I welcome Staffordshire Police’s work to remove organised criminality from our streets.”
To find out more about what we’re doing to tackle county lines, visit: County lines | Staffordshire Police.
To report suspicious activity or criminality in your area, visit: Your area | Staffordshire Police or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.