Police text 2,000 numbers on County Lines drugs supply phone

3 February 2021, 14:46

West Midlands Police sent this text message to more than 2,000 potential cocaine users
West Midlands Police sent this text message to more than 2,000 potential cocaine users. Picture: West Midlands Police
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

More than 2,000 cocaine users have been messaged by the police urging them to seek help for addiction following the seizure of a suspected County Lines drug dealer's phone.

The contacts were found during an investigation into a drugs network across Birmingham and Worcestershire by West Midlands Police (WMP).

Up to £3,000 worth of cocaine was being supplied across the region as part of the drug line in which the phone was involved.

Phone numbers on the device had been receiving marketing updates aimed mostly at middle class cocaine users with "social" habits, WMP said.

Four men have been charged with possessing drugs with intent to supply and they are awaiting trial.

Among the contacts traced on the phone - which was seized from a 31-year-old man from Solihull on 25 November last year - were a healthcare worker and a man working in hospitality.

A 12-gauge shotgun was recovered following the search of addresses in the region
A 12-gauge shotgun was recovered following the search of addresses in the region. Picture: West Midlands Police

People were sent warning messages from the police informing them their phone numbers had been identified as part of a drugs supply investigation.

The text message warned the customers about the exploitation of children involved in cocaine consumption.

It reads: “This is a message from the Regional Organised Crime Unit for the West Midlands region County Lines Taskforce, Operation Index. We have sent you this message as your phone number has been in contact with a known County Lines drug line, which is being targeted by police.

“If you require any further information then please visit (web address). The site will also provide contact details of support organisations who can provide help and support if you have an addiction or believe you are being exploited.”

Two men were arrested on 8 December after WMP found drugs, a 12-gauge self-loading shotgun and ammunition while searching addresses in Acocks Green, Erdington and Oldbury.

Detective Inspector Dan Rooks, who runs the taskforce, said officers have arrested one user already and that they will be contacting more of the alleged customers "in the coming weeks".

“Forensic analysis of the line – known as the Razor Line – shows the marketing messages being issued are appealing to the middle classes that use cocaine socially as well as those who have addictions," he said

“Intelligence suggests vulnerable people are being exploited and groomed to carry out drug dealing on behalf of the line. They are taking all the risks and their exploiters are making big profits.

“We want drug users to know their cocaine habit is directly leading to the abuse of children and to urge them to take action to address their addictions.

The County Lines Taskforce was launched last June and has since shut down 169 lines, while actively investigating hundreds more.

If you suspect a child or vulnerable person is being exploited to run drugs then you can get in touch with the force via its Live Chat, website or by calling call 101.