Drug gangs have been targeted by West Midlands Police as part of a national week of action against 'County Lines' heroin and crack cocaine networks. The force executed 29 warrants, made 73 arrests and seized weapons, almost £20,000 in cash and drugs from people suspected of running cross-border drugs supply chains.
The term 'County Lines' refers to the mobile phone lines dedicated to taking orders from drug users, which are operated by criminals from big cities who have expanded into smaller towns. Young and vulnerable people are often used to act as drug runners or have their homes taken over, or "cuckooed", to be used as drug dens.
The action formed part of a County Lines Intensification Week that saw police forces across the UK share intelligence and join forces to tackle offenders who often exploit vulnerable people, including children, to deal drugs on their behalf.
On Monday (7 October) officers from a West Midlands Police gangs unit teamed up with West Mercia Police to target a man suspected of running drugs from Birmingham into Droitwich - and potentially making £4,000 per day.
Dramatic video footage shows the moment traffic officers box in a car the suspect is travelling in on a Droitwich street he and another man are arrested.
The 31-year-old, from Birmingham, was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs with intent to supply, while the 40-year-old driver, from Droitwich, was held on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of drugs. Both have been released under investigation while officers conduct more enquiries.
Later in the week (Friday 11 October) police in Tipton raided two homes linked to a man suspected of supplying Class A drugs into Hereford.
At one address officers found a zombie style knife hidden under a bed and a Samurai sword behind the door; no arrests were made but enquiries continue.
Superintendent Rich Agar is West Midlands Police's lead for County Lines. He said: "There have been several national weeks of action now aimed at County Lines drug dealing and this has been our most successful to date.There are around 100 County Lines suspected of emanating from the West Midlands supplying heroin and cocaine into rural areas as far afield as Wales, the south coast and Scotland.
It's crucial we work with police colleagues in neighbouring forces and across the UK - plus other partners - to effectively tackle the scourge of County Lines and that's exactly what we did last week to great effect.
The operation was coordinated by the Home Office-funded National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC), set up to target gangs exploiting children to sell drugs through so-called county lines.