Cocaine, cash and weapons seized in week of county lines raids
Almost 50 people were arrested and thousands of pounds worth of drugs were seized across the West Midlands and Staffordshire during a national county lines operation.
In the West Midlands, police executed 15 warrants, made 28 arrests, seized weapons, confiscated £14,000 in cash and found drugs valued at more than £80,000 as part of the week-long National Crime Agency-led operation.
On Thursday officers from West Midlands Police and West Mercia Police raided properties in the Black Country and arrested two teenagers.
Two addresses in Tipton, on Jays Avenue and Howard Street, plus a third in Blakeley Hall Road, Oldbury, were raided and around 300 wraps of Class A drugs, a mobile phone and £3,000 in cash were seized.
The 17-year-old boys, who can't be named due to their age, were charged with conspiracy to supply drugs.
Raids were also carried out elsewhere in the West Midlands, including in Coventry where 1.7kg of cocaine, cannabis, phones, £7,000 in cash and suspected stolen car keys were found.
WATCH: Police raid Coventry drugs den
Superintendent Rich Agar, who leads West Midlands Police’s county lines operation, said: "It’s been a really productive week with West Midlands Police teaming up with neighbouring forces to tackle cross-border drugs crime.
"We secured some notable arrests and charges, but importantly our officers also safeguarded several vulnerable people, including children, who were suspected to be at risk of exploitation by drug gangs.
"We are committed to dismantling drugs networks operating out of the West Midlands and to protect any young, vulnerable people who are exploited by gangs and subject to violence, fear and intimidation.
"If anyone suspects a property in their community is being used by drugs gangs then I’d urge them to get in touch so we can take action."
Grooming and 'cuckooing'
County lines groups are known for using vulnerable young people to traffic drugs, often forcing children into drug dealing through grooming, threats and exploiting existing drug debts.
The gangs use the people they have groomed or exploited to transport drugs from larger cities such as Birmingham and Manchester to smaller rural towns in places like Cannock and Shropshire.
As well as using recruits to ferry the drugs, the gangs often use the practice of "cuckooing" where they temporarily take over vulnerable people's homes to deal drugs in rural areas.
Drugs are ordered to the area using mobile phones, hence the term 'county lines'.
In Staffordshire, 16 people were arrested and a range of drugs and weapons - including a samurai sword - were seized during last week's operation.
Officers arrested three people in Burntwood, one in each of Cannock, Rugeley and Burton, two in Newcastle-under-Lyme and eight in Stoke-on-Trent.
A total of £1,325 in cash was seized as well as crack cocaine worth £1,700, heroin worth £1,880 and £500 worth of cocaine.
Police also helped safeguard seven vulnerable men and one vulnerable woman after visiting eight address across the county.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Bentley, of Staffordshire Police, said: “This has been another intensive week of activity focusing on protecting the vulnerable in our communities and dealing with offenders.
“We’re working hard to tackle this challenge by disrupting those who would deal drugs in our communities.
“It has been a busy week, but the work continues and we will arrest and charge those dealing drugs but look to safeguard the young and vulnerable who may be pressured into this type of activity.”
The national week of action ran from May 13-20 and was coordinated by the National Crime Agency.
It led to almost 600 arrests across the UK with £312,649 in cash and £200,000 worth of Class A drugs seized.
Of those arrested, 500 were men and 86 were women, while 519 vulnerable adults and 364 vulnerable children were safeguarded.
Police also referred 30 people as potential victims of slavery or human trafficking, while 46 weapons were seized including four guns, swords, machetes, an axe, knives, samurai swords, and a crossbow and drugs including cocaine worth £176,780, crack worth £36,550 and heroin worth £17,950 were seized.
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