£1m of drugs seized in County Lines crackdown as footage shows dramatic police raids in Black Country

Police seized £1 million worth of illegal drugs and cash during a major operation to crack down on County Lines drug dealers.

Police smash down a door in Sandwell before finding drugs hidden in a washing machine
Police smash down a door in Sandwell before finding drugs hidden in a washing machine

The action saw scores of officers carry out swoops at properties in the region in a bid to disrupt gangs which use mobile phone lines to sell substances including cocaine, cannabis and heroin in both neighbouring and distant counties.

In addition to the seizure of £1m in drugs, four active telephone lines were snuffed out and five cannabis factories were shut down.

Raids included two locations in Sandwell, including one in Tipton, on March 7 and March 11 and a further swoop in Birmingham where a car was stopped.

Weapons seized during the week included a a crossbow, knives, baseball bats and knuckledusters.

Body-worn camera footage of the raids shows police finding a bag of drugs inside a washing machine after smashing a door down at an unspecified address in Sandwell and then finding drugs in an ice cream tub at a separate raid in Tipton. A man in his 60s was arrested in that raid and has since been released under investigation while police analyse the drugs.

Further video shows officers swooping on the car in Birmingham.

The successful operation went ahead last week as part of a national week of action against County Lines dealers. West Midlands Police arrested a total of 109 people, comprising 101 men and eight women.

In total more than £800,000 of cannabis was confiscated comprising 2,000 plants, 53 bags and 2kg of cannabis; more than £48,000 worth of Class A drugs including 250g of crack cocaine, 295g of heroin and 9g of cocaine.

The teams also recovered £20,000 in cash and released footage of a swoop at the property where drugs were found and arrests made.

West Midlands Police County Lines operation lead Detective Superintendent Syed Hussain said the operation involved a two-pronged attack using both enforcement and prevention strategies in a bid stem the flow of vulnerable young people being recruited by gangs peddle drugs.

"It was an incredibly successful week for one that West Midlands Police is very proud of.

"We seized about £1m worth of drugs, just over £20,000 in cash, shut down five cannabis factories, we also shut down four very active mobile phone lines and amongst all of that we made 109 arrests, which I think is quite important.

"However, you can't simply arrest your way out of the problem so we worked with a raft of partners and local authorities across this region along with third sector charities. We attack the same problem, but from a prevention perspective and delivered educational awareness input in schools, colleges and universities.

"We also made efforts to raise the awareness of the general public so that they can become much more aware of the dangers associated with County Lines and exploitation."

"The inputs were done across the West Midlands Police area and also the wider region encompassing the other three police forces. This work is across all age groups because we know that County Lines has had an impact on a lot of early teens and school aged children.

"The issue is they are seen as easy targets and as a result of that you can see the attraction of going after young people as potential victims of this crime, so we did concentrate those efforts in delivering that educational and prevention message with the educational environment."

The force works with other forces including Staffordshire, West Mercia and Warwickshire to tackle County Lines crimes. Last week arrests were made by the West Mercia force which covers Wyre Forest.

Det Supt Hussain said that a recent national operation traced a Midlands area county line to as far afield as Scotland.

He explained that the coronavirus pandemic also saw criminals adapt their business operations.

Last June a Dyfed-Powys Police swoop at the Leighton Arches travellers caravan site in Welshpool uncovered that a gang moved hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of heroin, cocaine and cannabis from Wolverhampton for distribution to Mid Wales towns over a number of months. A total of 12 criminals, some based in Wolverhampton, have since been convicted of conspiracy to supply drugs.

In November young Wolverhampton dealers Scott Perrins, 20, and Brandon Cottam, 21, both of St George’s Parade, were jailed at Warwickshire Crown Court for their roles in a plot to traffic drugs from Dudley to the streets of Leamington, in Warwickshire.

Perrins was jailed for two years and six months for possession of cocaine with intent to supply and acquiring criminal property while Cottam was jailed for three years for possession of heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply and acquiring criminal property. Both admitted the offences.

Residents concerned that a neighbour may be a victim of 'cuckoo-ing', the practice of using the home of a vulnerable person to deal drugs, to contact the police immediately on 999, 101 or via the website or Crimestoppers.

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