Forcing youngsters to sell their Class A drugs in which ever community they can get their claws into has become a national past-time for drug dealers recently but last week West Midlands, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and West Mercia police forces went on the offensive.
During six days of high profile policing 143 people were arrested, 630 wraps of Class A drugs were confiscated, and 3,400 cannabis plants destroyed.
Firearms were also taken off the streets as well as 30 knives and machetes.
Dealers were also relieved of £30,000 in cash and dozens of suspected ‘burner’ phones with popular drug hotline numbers were seized and are now being forensically analysed for evidence.
Superintendent Wendy Bailey, West Midlands Police lead for County Lines, said: “These gangs are ruthless: they use people as commodities, coercing or threatening them to deal drugs on their behalf.
"It’s not rare for these people, including children, to be attacked by rival drugs gangs.
“Last week was really successful: we executed 43 warrants as we went after offenders and ran operations at transport hubs, and on the road and rail network, looking for people moving drugs."
She added: “But importantly we also carried out work aimed at protecting children from exploitation and to raise awareness of tactics used by drugs gangs."
In the last decade as youth centres closed and youth workers were made redundant across the West Midlands drug dealers filled the vacuum turning teenagers into sellers of crack and heroin.
Last week's clampdown on county lines networks also tried to claw back the ground lost in the last decade as the police told those working with children the warning signs of a youngster being coerced into crime by an elder criminal.
Supt Bailey added: “Officers visited care homes and schools, spoke to staff at hotels and taxi firms so they know the signs to be aware of, and ex-offenders now working as mentors with the charity St Giles came in to share their experiences with our officers.
“This was a week of joint activity with other forces and charities but rest assured we are targeting County Lines gangs every day of the week.”
If you fear a child is being exploited to sell drugs and want to know the signs to look out for visit west-midlands.police.uk/your-options/county-lines.