Dealers off the streets and behind bars

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West Midlands Police is targeting County Lines crime across the borough and has also launched Operation Target target serious and organised crime like drug dealing, burglary, cyber-crime and fraud across the West Midlands.

County Lines – where mobile phone lines are used to supply illegal drugs that are often stored or transported by children or other vulnerable people coerced by criminal gangs – affects communities across the country.

The illicit trade can have a devastating impact on those caught up in it – whether they are coaxed or coerced into carrying the drugs from one area to another or they habitually use them – and the effects are felt by others not directly involved too. Drug taking and dealing and associated antisocial behaviour and crimes like violence, intimidation and theft have a hugely harmful impact on local neighbourhoods.

Dudley has not been immune to the problems caused by County Lines and West Midlands Police are tackling this head on and over the past few months have secured some great results against the criminals running these operations.

Operation Target will see officers working alongside other forces and the Regional Organised Crime Unit, focusing expertise and resources on disrupting those involved in serious and organised crime, and bringing offenders to justice.

In Dudley, the Police have identified new County Lines for investigation and enforcement such as surveillance, carrying out stops and searches, and making arrests and charging suspects, which has led to the conviction and imprisonment of several offenders. Sergeant Rich Galbraith of the Serious Organised Crime team at Dudley Police, said:

“County Lines drug gangs run highly organised and sometimes sophisticated set-ups so we have to be methodical and joined-up in our approach to tackling them.

“We’ve worked together across different departments and disciplines throughout the force, linking in with the County Lines Taskforce as well as response, traffic and neighbourhood teams.

“It’s been a collective effort and we’re hitting these gangs where it hurts – disrupting their trade and taking their drugs out of circulation, and making arrests and putting the perpetrators behind bars.”

"Over the last 10 months, working together with colleagues in the County Lines Taskforce we’ve targeted 14 lines. We’ve stopped and searched individuals and executed warrants against those we have suspected of being involved in operating these lines.

"As a result, we’ve made 21 arrests and already secured seven convictions totalling combined sentences of 352 months – almost 30 years’ jail time".

The remaining 14 suspects have been charged and are either awaiting sentencing or trial, with 11 of them on remand and off the streets while the remaining three are subject to crown court bail conditions.

While pleased at the progress made over the last few months, County Lines gangs are not easily deterred so it’s vitally important to keep up the momentum.


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