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Twenty-eight arrests were made and one person safeguarded during Staffordshire’s most successful County Lines Intensification Week to date.
From Monday 11 to Friday 15 October (2021), officers arrested 21 adult males, one boy and six adult females from Stoke-on-Trent, Cannock, Tamworth and Burton for drug offences. Eight people were charged and remanded.
Police seized 313.4 grams of crack cocaine worth £31,380, 17.9 grams of heroin worth £1440, 30 grams of cocaine worth £1850, 20ml of methadone, 903 cannabis plants, four grams of monkey dust and 28 grams of cannabis.
More than £60,600 in cash was also seized, alongside weapons such as a long-barrelled WW2 rifle, two lock knives, a knife and a crossbow.
Police also seized five drug-line mobile phones.
Forces and agencies across England and Wales worked together in an intensification week targeting these activities. Numerous presentations with schools and care homes were exercised, with letters delivered to parents of all children in Staffordshire.
Drug groups who target vulnerable young people, often age 14 to 24, use them to traffic drugs after deals are negotiated remotely, usually through a mobile or ‘line’. These people may be coerced into this criminality through drug use, debt, grooming, threats or violence. Drug groups often specifically target those who have financial debt, mental health problems, prone to missing episodes, being known to the care system and those who may use drugs themselves.
A boy was safeguarded and referred to T3 drug workers. Two vulnerable females and five vulnerable males were identified and signposted to partner agencies.
Seventeen ‘cuckooed’ addresses were visited, which is where premises such as houses or flats are acquired through coercion and taken over by groups for criminal activity.
Detective Inspector Ade Martin, of Staffordshire Police, said: “This has been a busy week for officers who have been working hard to tackle this challenge by disrupting those who would deal drugs in our communities.
“Although we are always targeting County Lines activity, this week of focus mainly led to arrests of individuals travelling into the south of the county from the West Midlands and Derby.
“We’ve had success disrupting criminal activity and confiscating drugs and weapons, but of course our work continues. We will arrest and charge those dealing drugs but it’s important to remember that we will also look to safeguard the young and vulnerable who may be pressured into this type of activity. It’s important to understand that where we would once have treated some of those involved as offenders they may be vulnerable and at risk.”