Dawn raids have been carried out across the Northumbria Police force area in a major operation to target suspected drug dealing.
Officers joined colleagues from across the country to execute drug warrants on Wednesday May 1 – with a total of 24 people arrested.
Properties in Byker, Newcastle and Wallsend were targeted at the same time raids were being carried out in Stevenage, Norwich, Glasgow and London.
This is the first operation of its kind in Northumbria to target a national crime type known as ‘county lines’.
Elsewhere in the country this has seen the exploitation of vulnerable people, including children and those with existing addiction problems, to move and store drugs and money.
This can include a single phone line to facilitate the supply of Class A drugs often resorting to coercion, intimidation and if necessary violence.
Northumbria Police’s Assistant Chief Constable David Felton said the activity today was a show of the force’s further commitment under Operation Sentinel to target serious and organised crime.
While crime associated with county lines is not prominent in our area, this is recognised as a national issue and one we remain vigilant about.
The 24 people, 18 men and 6 women, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs.
As part of the operation officers also made a number of seizures including drugs, mixing agents, drugs paraphernalia, mobile phones and documentation.
Members of the public are also encouraged to get in touch with any intelligence which could help police.
If somebody shows signs of mistreatment, or a child seems to be travelling long distances or is unfamiliar with an area, you can report suspicions to local police on 101 or the British Transport Police if on the transport network.
Other signs to look out for include:
Change in behaviour
Associating with new people
Access to numerous phones
Signs of assault or malnutrition
Use of different language and terminology
Younger victims may also miss school, have new expensive clothing or items and have bus/train tickets to unfamiliar places