Criminal linked to county lines have been targeted during a week of action in Cheshire.
Officers arrested 14 men and five women on suspicion of drug offences and executed a number of warrants which resulted in heroin and cocaine being seized.
At least 12 people who were identified as victims of cuckooing were visited by police and provided with specialist support and advice. Cuckooing is a term used to describe gangs who take over a vulnerable person’s home to use as a drugs den.
Officers also engaged with 24 vulnerable adults and children who could have been targeted or exploited by organised crime gangs.
Macclesfield Local Policing Unit also ran an operation with British Transport Police (BTP) to target those using the railway to transfer drugs into the area and identify those who may have been exploited to carry out this activity.
Meanwhile officers from Northwich Local Policing Unit engaged with children at train stations in Hartford, Greenbank and Winsford.
Officers from Crewe and Widnes Local Policing Units assisted Northumbria Police with an operation to target a significant organised crime group. Two men were arrested and class A drugs were recovered in Sandbach.
The week of action, which took place from Monday 14 September, was part of a national focus on county lines drug activity co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
A county line is operated by an organised crime group (OCG) who use a mobile phone, known as a line or a graft to extend their criminal activity business into new locations – usually from a city into rural locations.
Detective Inspector Eli Atkinson said: “Targeting those suspected of being involved in serious and organised crime, specifically county lines, is something we do relentlessly on a regular basis.
“The week of action enabled officers to go that extra mile by informing the public of what we’re doing and how they too can look out for signs of children and adults who are vulnerable to organised criminals and report it.
“Throughout the week we carried out a range of activity including disrupting gangs by making arrests and seizing drugs but we also had a big focus on identifying and engaging with people whose homes are being taken over by drug dealers.
“It is these victims who are at the centre of county lines and can often be forgotten which is why we give talks in schools, speak to residents in our community and visit businesses to raise awareness.”
David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “Preventing and protecting Cheshire’s communities from serious and organised crime continues to be a key focus of my Police and Crime Plan.
“This week of action is testament to the work officers do day in day out to protect our communities and vulnerable adults and children from organised crime gangs.”
To learn how to spot the signs of drug activity taking place in your community or children and vulnerable adults being exploited by organised crime groups please visit our website
To report serious and organised crime please call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or Cheshire Police on 101.