Police arrest 1,500 drug trafficking suspects and seize samurai swords in crackdown

21 October 2021, 00:08

Past arrests have seen drugs seized, right, in county lines operations
Past arrests have seen drugs seized, right, in county lines operations. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Police have arrested nearly 1,500 suspected drug traffickers and seized zombie knives and samurai swords in a week-long county lines crackdown.

Officers across England and Wales took more than a hundred knives and dozens of firearms off the streets and recovered more than £1.2 million, as well as £2 million-worth of Class A drugs.

County lines sees dealers use mobiles to take illegal substances from large cities to towns and rural areas and often involves violence.

They are run by "line holders" who use vulnerable adults and young children, having groomed, coerced or threatened them into becoming "runners" to deliver the narcotics.

LBC investigation: County lines gangs exploiting children as young as eight

Read more: Around 600 potential county lines identified in last year alone

In an operation between 11 and 17 October, officers arrested 1,468 people, safeguarded 2,664 vulnerable people, who were mostly children, and seized 289 weapons.

Of those, 120 were knives and 29 were firearms. A total of 22 machetes, eight samurai swords, four crossbows and 12 zombie knives were also taken.

A total of £1,254,384 was also seized as well as the substantial amount of drugs.

Some 28.8kg of heroin and 26.8kg of cocaine were found, while 894 cuckooed addresses were visited – households usually occupied by vulnerable people to store drugs.

Major focus on county lines has seen the amount drop from 2,000 in 2018 down to about 600 active networks, thanks to the work of police forces in major exporting areas Merseyside, the West Midlands and London.

Graham McNulty, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) lead for county lines, said police are making "significant inroads into dismantling violent county lines".

"The figures speak for themselves - we're stopping abhorrent criminals abusing young people and lining their own pockets in the process," he said.

"Nearly £2,000,000 worth of Class A drugs and hundreds of weapons are now off our streets thanks to the work of officers up and down the country."

The Children’s Society charity was praised for helping police find children involved with county lines and anyone worried about someone being involved in the practice has been urged to contact officers.