Dozens of arrests as police target county lines drug dealing across Leicestershire
Police have made 37 arrests after targeting drug dealing hotspots including Melton as part of a major ‘county lines’ operation in Leicestershire.
Officers carried out 33 warrants and also safeguarded 17 children and 10 adults during a week of enforcement activity to tackle the issue.
County lines gangs export drugs into other areas of the country, often small towns, using dedicated mobile phone lines.
They also exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store drugs and money, sometimes using coercion, intimidation and violence.
Warrants were executed throughout the week in hotspot areas such as Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton Mowbray and East and West Leicester. As well as arresting 37 people, officers recovered what’s believed to be class A and B heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis, a large quantity of cash, a Rolex watch, 29 phones, three laptops, numerous sets of scales, blank firing firearms and ammunition, a BB gun and a stolen car.
Some of the warrants were carried out with officers from the East Midlands Special Operation Unit (EMSOU).
Det Ch Insp Mark Sinski, from the force intelligence bureau, said: “It has been an incredibly successful week not just in terms of arrests and charges but also in the way we have worked with so many partners from community safety partnerships to education and social services, as well as drug intervention organisations such as Turning Point, to protect vulnerable people who are being exploited.
“Drugs have a very negative affect on people’s lives and blight communities by bringing crime and anti-social behaviour to their doorstep.
“There is no doubt in my mind that our enforcement action will have significantly disrupted the supply of drugs into our county towns but we are not complacent and will continue to focus on this priority area with more warrants already planned.”
Leicestershire Police Chief Constable, Simon Cole QPM, said; “An enormous amount of hard work goes into the planning and execution of these intense weeks of action but the excellent results speak for themselves.
“We have taken a large amount of drugs off our streets and arrested people whose actions blight communities and prey on the vulnerable.
“I’m glad that we’ve been able to safeguard vulnerable adults and young people, and refer them on to other agencies to get the help and support they need, to have a better future.”
Two Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) operations were carried out in hotspot areas of the county, resulting in the arrest of seven people for offences including dealing, possession with intent to supply drugs and driving while under the influence of drugs.
Officers also went into county schools to warn them about the dangers posed by county lines criminality.
The force’s children and young persons officer, Katie Hudson, and substance misuse officer, James Edmondston, ran 11 county lines workshops throughout the week on Microsoft Teams.
They spoke to 2,808 pupils, 98 teachers and 466 adults who work with young people.
The workshops are designed to help adults spot the signs of criminal exploitation in young people and warn teenagers of the dangers of getting involved in county lines.
Just over 2,000 professionals, including sports coaches, teachers and youth workers have now booked on to attend an online workshop.
Rupert Matthews, the force’s new Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire, commented: “County lines week was a demonstration of an intelligence-led operation; it serves to counter drug smugglers who are exploiting vulnerable children and using them as a way of getting harmful and illegal drugs into our city and two counties.
“Prevention strategies like this are not just a great demonstration of reacting to and stopping crime but also a great way of deterring criminals.
“I must say that the police have been doing a fantastic job and it is teamwork like no other. I look forward to seeing some great results.”
The Leicestershire operation was part of a national County Lines Intensification Week (CLIW), which ran from May 17-24 and saw police forces up and down the country working with a range of partners to make arrests and safeguard the vulnerable.