Police carry out series of coordinated raids aimed at tackling county lines drug dealers

By Ben Fitzgerald - 7 October 2019

Crime

More than 50 police officers carried out ten drugs warrants across Swindon today as part of the force's effort to crack down on County Lines gangs.

Nine people were arrested on suspicion of drug dealing at various locations.  

The properties visited were:  

Oxford Street - a 29-year-old man arrested
Doris Archer Court in Pinehurst - a 17-year-old boy arrested  
Inglesham Road in Penhill - a 44-year-old woman arrested 
Penhill Drive - a 46-year-old man and a 46-year-old woman arrested  
Cricklade Road - a 47-year-old man arrested 
William Street - a 39-year-old man was arrested 
Sadler Walk
Drake's Way 
Westcott Place 

 And two males were arrested in the town centre;  a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old.

County Lines is the name given to a drug dealing methodology which involves criminal networks from urban centres expanding their activities into smaller towns and rural areas. 

Dealers typically use a single phone line to facilitate the supply of class A drugs – frequently heroin and crack cocaine - to customers. The line becomes a valuable brand and is protected with violence and intimidation.

Detective Inspector Paul Franklin said: "This is part of our on-going work to close down County Lines networks. 
"The gangs who exploit children and vulnerable adults as part of these drug networks don't care about the human cost of their dealing. 
"They have no regard for those who are often forced to carry out their dirty work to push drugs;  they also don't care about the impact in the the wider community with the associated increased violence, anti social behaviour and other drug related offences in local neighbourhoods which does affect innocent people. 
"The message we are sending to out of town criminal gangs is that you are not welcome here, we are not a soft touch and we won't tolerate any drug dealing and the violence which comes with it; that's in Swindon or the wider county of Wiltshire. 
"Operations like today, will continue as we continue our determined work to close down County Lines." 

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Swindon and Wiltshire who attended one of the warrants today, said:  "The good proactive work of our officers also sends a message to the wider community that they are taking your concerns seriously and are doing something about these criminal gangs. 
"However, we all recognise that it cannot be dealt with by police enforcement alone. 
"Cross border policing, pro active patrols, closure orders and early intervention for young people are some of a number of tools we can use but it has to be a multi agency response in order to best reach those who really need our help.
"Education is also key and the police and my office are working with colleagues in the local authorities, schools and safeguarding to provide information and highlight the dangers. 
"It's a community wide thing - we all need to take responsibility to help the police close down these illegal dealings.  
"I encourage everyone to make themselves aware of the signs to look out for to help stop these criminals from exploiting our young and vulnerable people. 
"Please keep calling 101 or reporting via the police website." 

Here are some common signs to look out for which could indicate that a person is involved in County Lines and possible drug dealing: 

Change in mood and/or demeanour (e.g. secretive/ withdrawn/ aggressive/ emotional)
Substance misuse and/or drug paraphernalia
Changes in the way they dress
Unexplained, sometimes unaffordable new things (e.g clothes, jewellery, cars etc)
Young people going missing, maybe for long periods of time
Young people seen in different cars/taxis driven by unknown adults
Young people seeming unfamiliar with your community or where they are
Truancy, exclusion, disengagement from school
An increase in anti-social behaviour in the community
Unexplained injuries

Vulnerable people can also have their homes taken over by drug gangs as bases to stash and deal drugs.   Known as ‘drug dens’ ‘crack houses’ ‘trap houses’ or 'cuckooed' properties. The occupant is effectively just a host for the strangers who knock on the door at any hour and only useful for as long as the property doesn’t come to police notice.

Here are some signs to look out for:

Other people seen inside the house or flat who don’t normally live there
People coming and going from the property at all hours
More taxis and cars than usual appearing at the property
Not seeing the person who lives there as frequently
When you do see the occupant, they may appear anxious or distracted
Seeing drugs paraphernalia near to the property

If you have information about drug dealing in your area there are options available for reporting.  You can call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency or go to  www.wiltshire.police.uk where you can report anonymously.

Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the young people's website Fearless.org

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