Handcuffs

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 last week, made 73 arrests and seized weapons, almost £20,000 in cash and drugs from people suspected of running cross-border drugs supply chains.

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 7th 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 cops 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 that week (11/10), 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.

West Midlands Police also ran 14 Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) operations targeting crooks using the road network to move drugs, and joined British Transport Police on the lookout for vulnerable people on the trains.

And neighbourhood officers gave a series inputs at schools and colleges aimed at diverting teenagers away from drug crime.

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.

“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.

“County Lines is a cruel crime; offenders are making significant sums of money out of the misery of other people.

“They groom and exploit vulnerable people, often teenage boys and girls, with promises of quick money, designer clothes and kudos. But they treat them as simple commodities to do their dirty work moving and dealing drugs. We’ve found children holed up in squalid conditions and exposed to very dangerous people and environments − a far cry from what they’re promised.”

The national week of action (7 -13/10) − coordinated by the National County Lines Coordination Centre − led to more than 700 arrests by UK police, plus the seizure of drugs valued at half a million pounds.

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.

Supt Agar added:

“We are committed to dismantling drugs networks operating out of the West Midlands and to protect any young, vulnerable people who are exploited by gangs and subject to violence, fear and intimidation.

“If anyone suspects a property in their community is being used by drugs gangs then I’d urge them to get in touch so we can take action.”

To contact West Midlands Police call 101 or Live Chat via WMP Online; alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.