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London man charged after operation to tackle county drugs lines

24 Jan 2019

A man from Croydon has been charged with drug supply offences in Bedfordshire after a major regional operation to tackle county drugs lines.

The 21-year-old was arrested as part of three warrants carried out in Bedford on Tuesday (22 January).

More than 60 people were arrested after a series of warrants in London and across the eastern region as part of two days of coordinated action by different forces.

County drugs lines is the term used to describe gangs, groups or drug networks that supply drugs from urban to suburban areas across the country, including market and coastal towns, using dedicated mobile phone lines or ‘deal lines’.

A 16-year-old boy has been put into the national referral mechanism (NRM) system for modern slavery victims as a result of the warrants led by Bedfordshire Police.

A 56-year-old man has also been released under investigation for drug supply offences after the warrants in Bedford.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 23 properties were searched by more than 200 officers from seven forces across the eastern region - Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk - supported and co-ordinated by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), resulting in 61 arrests.

On Wednesday, Bedfordshire Police secured closure orders at the three properties that were raided in Clapham Road, Midland Road and Hartington Street.

The operation, which was also supported by the National Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police, was part of a bid to clamp down on county drugs lines operating out of London into towns across the eastern region.

More than 1,000 wraps of Class A drugs were seized, along with amounts of cannabis, a number of knives and imitation firearms, and approximately £20,000 in cash.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable for ERSOU, Simon Parkes, said: “County drugs lines have a significant impact on towns across the eastern region and drive a wide range of criminality. This is why we’re working together as police forces and a regional organised crime unit, alongside the National Crime Agency, to disrupt those who run and profit from them, and to safeguard those affected.

“We’re really pleased with the results of this co-ordinated response to an issue which causes serious harm to our communities; this has been the product of months of hard work by officers. We have targeted those controlling county lines due to the links with the exploitation of vulnerable people, the peddling of dangerous and illicit substances, and associated violence.

“The success of these types of operations replies upon communities working with their local police officers, providing information to help identify those dealing the drugs in their area as well as those who are vulnerable and being exploited. If you do have any concerns in your area, please do contact your local force on 101.”

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