25 Sep More than 1,000 arrests and Class A drugs worth £1m seized as police shut ‘10%’ of county lines | UK News
About 10% of county lines drug networks in England and Wales have been shut down following a week-long operation, police have said.
The crackdown last week resulted in the arrests of more than 1,000 people and the seizure of 18 guns, more than £500,000 in cash, and Class A drugs worth over £1m.
It involved all 43 regional forces in England and Wales, along with the British Transport Police and the National Crime Agency.
Police said the operation resulted in the shutting down of 102 “deal lines”, linked to unique phone numbers used to buy drugs.
This is believed to be at least a tenth of the UK’s estimated 800 to 1,100 active county lines, each of which can make about £25,000 a week.
Police said COVID-19 restrictions and a better understanding of mobile phone data helped them target the criminals operating the county lines.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for county lines, said: “We know now what a county lines phone looks like.
“And we know what the activity looks like on that phone.
“From all the cases we have dealt with, which have gone to court, we know it’s pay as you go, we know it’s unregistered, we know there’s bulk text message usage, selling your wares.
“We know the average recipient list and we know about the incoming activity on that phone, which is helping us to really focus on county lines.”
County lines is a gang model which often uses young and vulnerable people to move drugs and cash between cities and towns. Drug runners have been found to be as young as 14.
About a third of all lines are thought to operate from London. Between 12% and 15% are run from Liverpool and Birmingham.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I will not tolerate county lines drugs gangs terrorising our communities and exploiting young people, which is why I have made tackling this threat a priority.
“I saw first-hand one of the operations last week and the results of this latest crackdown are hugely impressive.
“They send a clear message to criminals that law enforcement is coming after them.”