A team of police officers from across the Yorkshire and Humber Region arrested five men on the morning of Tuesday 11 February in a major cross-border operation targeting so-called ‘county lines’ drug dealing.
70 police officers from North Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Police, supported by officers from the Regional Organised Crime Unit and the National Crime Agency, targeted six addresses in Bradford in connection with three ‘county lines’ dealing drugs between Harrogate in North Yorkshire and Bradford in West Yorkshire.
The teams included detectives, specialist search-trained police officers, police dog handlers, digital forensic investigators and financial investigators
The arrested men are all from Bradford and are aged 20, 37, 29, 26, and 22. They are currently in police custody for questioning.
During searches of the properties, officers recovered suspected class A drugs including heroin and cocaine in the form of numerous wraps and a package, a total of £3,000 in cash from across the properties, a machete, 20 mobiles phones and suspected drugs paraphernalia including scales and deal bags.
The operation was the culmination of work under North Yorkshire Police’s Project Alliance and West Yorkshire Police’s Programme Precision to target those involved in county lines activity.
Detective Inspector Fionna McEwan of North Yorkshire Police’s Organised Crime Unit, said:
Today’s action is a result of extensive intelligence gathering and joint working with a number of partners, locally, regionally and nationally including the National County Lines Coordination Centre.
Tackling drug trafficking is one of our highest priorities. County lines activity and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation has a devastating impact.
This type of crime not only brings misery to our local communities but also exploits the youngest and most vulnerable. Today’s operation demonstrates our commitment to working together on a local, regional and national level to tackle it.
County lines crime involves criminal networks dealing in illegal drugs from area to another. This can be across force boundaries from an urban to a non-urban area but can equally be from one city to another or even across one district using dedicated mobile phone lines.
Criminals involved will often use and exploit young children and vulnerable adults to commit the crime. They will often use violence and weapons to get what they want. Cuckooing is the term used when drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person and use it as a base to store and sell drugs.
DI McEwan added:
Our communities can be reassured that we will continue to target those who bring misery to our cities, towns and communities until the message gets through that they are hostile places for drug dealers.
Nikki Holland, NCA Director of Investigations and national County Lines lead, said:
Tackling County Lines and the misery it causes is a national law enforcement priority. Today’s operation demonstrates the power of a joined-up response to a complex problem that we’re seeing in every area of the UK.
The public can be reassured that collectively we are committed to tackling County Lines networks and safeguarding victims.
We will continue to work collaboratively to dismantle these networks piece by piece in order to eradicate County Lines networks, and ultimately keep our communities safe from the exploitation and violence they inflict.