57 arrested as part of a nationally-coordinated crackdown on county lines drugs gangs

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57 arrested as part of a nationally-coordinated crackdown on county lines drugs gangs

57 arrested in North West during week-long drug clampdown

A week-long police operation to remove heroin and crack cocaine dealers from the streets has resulted in 57 arrests across the North West.

The clampdown on county drugs lines, which started on Monday (13th May) was coordinated by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) and saw officers from six forces, along with the regional disruption team, the National Crime Agency, and other partner agencies carry out operations across the North West to disrupt offenders and safeguard vulnerable people.

During the week, enforcement activity involved executing search warrants, gathering intelligence and arresting people already serving prison sentences on new evidence.

Across the region, 57 arrests were made, approximately £13,100 cash and five weapons were seized along with significant amounts of class A drugs.

County Lines is when criminal gangs from big cities across the UK use violence and intimidation to expand their drug network within their region, and into suburban areas, such as market and coastal towns across the country. They exploit young people and vulnerable adults to move and sell the drugs and 'cuckoo' the homes of vulnerable or drug-addicted people, taking them over and using their property as a drugs base.

The gangs use a single mobile phone line to communicate with drugs users, often making up to £5k per day. There are estimated to be over 2000 active lines in operation across the UK.

Regional activity during the week of action included; visits to vulnerable people, including those at risk of cuckooing, as well as officer engagement with commercial accommodation providers and private hire drivers, who may come into contact with offenders or those being exploited by county lines groups.
Detective Inspector Anne Rannard from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) said: “This week-long intensification has seen the North West ROCU working together with the six local police forces, specialist units and our partner agencies to conduct significant disruption to criminals involved in county lines activity.”

“It’s been a busy week and we’ve had success disrupting criminal activity, but our work to tackle county lines is very much ongoing. We will arrest and charge those dealing drugs but we will also look to safeguard the young and vulnerable who may be pressured into this type of activity.”

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Reardon said: “The issue of County Lines, is one that we as a force work to tackle day in day out and this week of action has re-enforced to those involved in this type of criminality that we will take you off our streets.

“Vulnerable people are being coerced, groomed and threatened by violence to take part in criminal activity across the North West and further afield. Many of these people feel that they have no choice and struggle to find a way to escape from the hurt and harm that they are enduring on a daily basis.
“We use a range of tactics to put a stop to this type of crime and target those people we believe are exploiting vulnerable people to profit from the misery of others.

“Alongside enforcement activity, we work with partners such as Everton in the Community, to reach out to young people and educate the most vulnerable in our society on how they can avoid becoming a target to these criminal groups. We are also working to give those vulnerable in society the confidence to break out of this criminal cycle. Many of these young people feel that they have no choice and struggle to find a way to escape from the harm they are enduring on a daily basis.”

You can watch a video about the issue of County Lines here –



Breakdown of figures

Merseyside Cheshire NW Lancashire Cumbria GMP
Arrests 19 19 3 6 7 3


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