Monday 28 Sep 2020
13 people were arrested after warrants were executed across North Wales as part of the National Intensification week to tackle County Lines criminality.
Officers from North Wales Police worked with other forces from across the region along with the Regional Organised Crime Unit, proactively targeting County Lines drug dealers whilst others engaged with vulnerable victims.
Over the course of the week the search warrants were executed at addresses in Wrexham, Flintshire, Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd and Anglesey under the Misuse of Drugs Act. This resulted in numerous arrests and seizures of illicit drugs, weapons including a replica firearm and knuckle duster, numerous mobile phones and cash which is believed to have been obtained from criminal activity.
In addition, officers deployed into hotspot areas and targeted individuals involved in County Lines drug dealing and exploitation undertaking stop searches and high visibility disruption tactics. We also targeted the road network using our Roads Policing, the Interceptor Teams and saw Police Dogs deployed in 3 local hostels in the search for illegal drugs.
Working with partner agencies we were able to identify over 40 vulnerable individuals demonstrating that our primary role is to safeguard and protect those that are at risk of being victims of criminal exploitation.
County lines drug dealers target children and vulnerable adults. They are recruited and then moved into other areas and told to stay in hotels, empty flats or with local drug users where they are forced to deal drugs by the dealers who are often sited in other areas of the country. Over the course of the week the arrests made caused disruption to a number of County Lines across North Wales and the North West region.
Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchet said: “The week-long operation has been a massive undertaking and I’d like to thank and pay tribute to all those officers involved, including our colleagues from across the region.”
“Over the last few months local communities will have seen our determination to address their concerns by making successful arrests. Operation Tide recently saw 18 people being sentenced for a total of 146 years. This is a continuation of that process and another example of our listening to, and acting on concerns raised by our communities.”
“County lines hurt the most vulnerable and bring violence and misery to our streets but I would like to reassure the public that North Wales should not be seen as a soft target by criminal gangs and we will continue to take swift, robust enforcement action. Distribution of controlled drugs will not be tolerated and we will continue to take action to disrupt this activity.
"Keeping our communities safe remains our top priority. We will persistently target those who bring drugs into our communities from outside North Wales in line with the force policy of directly targeting serious and organised crime.”
“However, we can’t tackle this problem alone and key to all our work, and that of our partners, is intelligence. I would like to thank the communities for their information and cooperation throughout this operation. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the community sharing their concerns with us.”
“We are determined to make North Wales the safest place in the UK and we will strive to make our communities safer and pass a strong message to these criminals that we will not tolerate it here.”
For those that feel they are affected by County Lines or for Parents and families who have concerns for their children or loved ones then there are numerous free resources with help and advice online. One such resource is The Children’s Society www.childrenssociety.org.uk who can offer specialist advice and signposting. Another valuable charity is Crimestoppers who are able to offer advice and the facility to report anonymously https://crimestoppers-uk.org/about-the-charity/who-we-work-with/trusts-and-foundations/county-lines?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3euvkYKE7AIVAentCh344gaXEAAYAiAAEgI2x_D_BwE
If you have any concerns information can be passed to Police via the web live chat http://www.north-wales.police.uk/contact/chat-support or by phoning 101. Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
County Lines is a 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”.
They exploit children and vulnerable adults to move the drugs and money to and from the urban area and to store the drugs locally.