Hundreds arrested and drugs, weapons and cash seized to safeguard vulnerable people

More than 160 people have been arrested in communities across the south east and in excess of £130,000 cash has been seized, along with drugs and weapons, as part of police and partnership activity targeting county lines drug dealers.

Through joint planning and co-ordination involving police forces in the south east, key partners and the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), a wide range of activity was conducted as part of a national week of action to disrupt offenders and safeguard vulnerable people.

County lines drug dealing involves criminals from organised crime groups using phone lines to move drugs around the country, usually from urban areas in to smaller communities, often exploiting young and vulnerable people and using violence against them.

During the week of action, which took place between Monday 7 March and Sunday 13 March, the extensive enforcement activity resulted in:

  • 162 people arrested
  • 102 vulnerable people being identified
  • More than £130,000 cash being seized
  • 264 cuckooed addresses visited
  • 1564 wraps of crack cocaine being seized
  • 1507 wraps of heroin being seized
  • 285 wraps of cocaine being seized
  • Approximately 908kg of herbal cannabis, and 6.5kg of cannabis resin being seized.

Warrants and other enforcement activity took place resulting in the seizure of knives, batons, machetes, imitation firearms, a firearm, and an electrified baton.

A number of line phones were also seized as well as significant amounts of designer clothing, a diamond necklace, laptops, designer goods, various expensive vehicles, bikes, and watches.

SEROCU also supports officers with specialist training to help them tackle the issue.

Detective Inspector Lee Newman, SEROCU’s County Lines Regional Co-ordinator, said:

“County lines criminality causes serious harm and has spiralling detrimental effects on our communities, putting the most vulnerable in society at risk from exploitation and significant harm.

“Within SEROCU and the National County Lines Co-ordination centre (NCLCC), we are committed to tackling the threats posed by County Lines to make the south east a safer place. We cannot tackle this alone therefore collaborative partnership working is key, not only to support this week of action in identifying and disrupting the serious offenders who are causing the most harm in our communities, but also by protecting those at risk.

“Our work extends far beyond weeks of action and our commitment to tackling these issues continues relentlessly. This period of activity acts as a reminder that we are making a real difference by taking large amounts of drugs out of our communities and safeguarding vulnerable adults and children.”

If you are concerned about drug dealing or county lines criminality and exploitation in your community, please report this to your local police force by calling 101 or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.