Thirteen people have been arrested in areas including Thanet during the latest enforcement action to tackle the supply of drugs through county lines.
Between May 13-20 officers across Kent took part in an operation to clampdown even harder on those involved in offences also including knife crime and the exploitation of vulnerable people.
The arrests formed part of a coordinated week of activity involving the National Crime Agency and police forces across the country, to disrupt and target organised crime groups from areas such as London, who extend their drug dealing activity across county boundaries – known as a running a ‘county line’.
Working with partners, including the Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police, officers carried out a number of intelligence-led stop checks to vehicles, addresses and individuals in areas including Medway and Thanet.
On May 16 almost 140 grams of suspected cocaine, as well as quantities of heroin, were seized from an address in Princess Margaret Avenue, Ramsgate after the execution of a search warrant. Around £4,000 in cash, a set of scales and mobile phones were also recovered. A man aged 30 and a 25-year-old woman, both from Ramsgate, were arrested on suspicion of possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply.
Throughout the week officers also carried out visits to vulnerable people at risk of being exploited by county lines networks and were involved with input about knife crime at a number of schools.
Detective Inspector Steve Mclean, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “We are working relentlessly to identity and tackle individuals associated with gangs, whose activities are generally linked to the supply of drugs, which can pose significant risks to our communities. Our use of both uniformed and plain clothes officers is already making it very hard for these people to gain a foothold anywhere in Kent and there will be no let-up in our determination to keep them of our streets.
‘This week of action is in addition to our sustained and co-ordinated focus on the activity of any county lines related offenders, with robust and rigorous enforcement. The operation has achieved some promising results and we hope our subsequent enquiries will see a significant number of suspects brought before the courts.
“We also continue to need your help, so remember to report any suspicious behaviour. By continuing to work together we not only ensure Kent remains a safe place to live but we are getting the message through to criminals that there is no hiding place from the law.’
National data from the NCA
2,000 County Lines deal line numbers and 1,000 branded County Lines
Heroin and crack cocaine most commonly supplied through the lines
Typical age of ‘groomed’ youngsters is 15-17 but examples of children as young as 11 being recruited
Vulnerable adults also targeted, especially with property ‘cuckooing’
Threats of kidnap, violence and sexual abuse made against those trying to exit County Lines