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24 January 2019, 10:03 | Updated: 27 January 2019, 07:04
More than 60 people have been arrested after a series of warrants were carried out across the eastern region and in London as part of an operation to tackle county drugs lines.
In total, 23 properties were searched on Tuesday and Wednesday (22 and 23 January) 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.
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.
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’.
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 pedalling 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, so if you do have any concerns in your area please do contact your local force on 101.”