County Lines: Drugs, cash and weapons seized during early morning raids across North East

Officers from Durham Police took part in a series of drug raids between 3 October and 7 October. Credit: Durham Police

Children as young as three were found at homes where there was evidence of frequent drug use in a series of raids in County Durham.

Nineteen people were arrested in Darlington and County Durham as part of a week of action to tackle county lines drug dealing, which uncovered tens of thousands of pounds worth of drugs and weapons.

Police forces across the North East were taking part in raids targeting the drug gangs between Monday 3 October and Friday 7 October.

Northumbria Police arrested 93 people, Cleveland arrested 35 people and North Yorkshire Police arrested 27 people.

Durham Police said it safeguarded eight vulnerable people, including five children aged between three and 12. 

What was seized?

Durham Police said it confiscated about £31,000 in cash, along with tens of thousands of pounds worth of cocaine and dozens of MDMA tablets. 

Weapons and drugs were seized in the raids. Credit: Northumbria Police

Steroids and drug dealing paraphernalia were also recovered, as well as several suspected stolen e-bikes, weapons, two cars, and a number of pieces of high value jewellery and watches suspected of being purchased using money from drug dealing. 

Northumbria Police said drugs including cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy and cannabis were seized.

The warrants also resulted in the seizure of several weapons including a firearm, machetes, knives, a crossbow and throwing stars, as well as almost £119,000 in cash.

In North Yorkshire, police recovered two bladed weapons, more than £5,000 in cash and £10,000 in suspected drugs.

What is County Lines drug dealing?

The week-long operation formed part of a national crackdown on county lines – a form of exploitation in which criminals groom and manipulate children and other vulnerable people into drug dealing. 

Dealers expand their operations through dedicated mobile phone lines, which sell addictive substances at low prices.

Detective Chief Inspector Stu Liddell, Northumbria Police County Lines lead, said: “This has been an incredible effort with teams from across the force working together to share intelligence and take action to stop a brutal form of drug dealing which has no place here in Northumbria.

“We are working harder than ever with our partners to crack down on County Lines, which brings misery to communities, and ensure it does not take hold in our region.

“What makes County Lines different to other forms of drug dealing is the aggressive tactics to trap and exploit vulnerable users, including children, in a cycle of debt and addiction that they can’t break free from.

“We remain dedicated to bringing those responsible for violence and exploitation to justice and will use all avenues available to us to do so.”

19 people were arrested across County Durham and Darlington in the week-long operation. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Inspector Dean Haythornthwaite, from Darlington's neighbourhood police team, said: “This operation involved months of diligent and complex intelligence gathering by officers in Darlington, which has resulted in a series of successful coordinated strikes against those who seek to profit from the misery of others. 

“We have not only arrested those believed to be responsible for large-scale drug dealing in Darlington and beyond, but disrupted their criminal networks and seized their laptops, mobile phones, weapons, cars, and jewellery bought with their profits. 

“Most importantly though, we have safeguarded eight innocent and vulnerable people – including five young children – who were present at addresses where there was evidence of frequent drug use.” 

He added: “Safeguarding vulnerable people is a vital tool in the fight against county lines and we rely on intelligence from members of the public to help us do this. 

“If you know of a vulnerable person who may be involved in county lines, or you simply see something that doesn’t look right, then please report it so we can act on it.” 

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