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13 arrests and more than £180,000 drugs seized

Last week (4-10 March) our officers carried out an operation aimed at criminals suspected to be profiting from drugs and bringing misery into communities.

Activities took place during County Lines Intensification Week and formed part of our ongoing work in partnership with neighbouring forces across the South West region and the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU).

Our officers from teams including intelligence, drones, dog operations, roads policing and neighbourhood policing employed a range of tactics to target drug crime. These included warrants, stop searches, intelligence-led proactive patrols and drug and weapons sweeps of public areas.

As a result:

  • 13 people were arrested. 

Evidence and property were seized, including:

  • More than £35,000 of Class A drugs
  • £145,000 of cannabis
  • Five prohibited weapons.
  • More than £25,000 of cash
  • Luxury watches suspected to be proceeds of crime
  • Mobile phones

Thirty-one visits were made, some with partners such as council officers, to addresses where cuckooing has been suspected or previously carried out, to help keep people safe from harm. Cuckooing is a crime where a criminal, or crime group, exploit vulnerable people. Most commonly this involves drug dealers taking control of a victim’s home, using the premises to store, prepare or distribute drugs, often as part of county lines* networks.

Officers and staff also carried out 29 engagement visits across Avon and Somerset, delivering education and awareness events, at schools, colleges, and youth clubs as well as in public places such as train stations and parks, to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs and county lines. Hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation were visited to help educate staff on how to spot and report the signs of county lines activity and exploitation.

Detective Superintendent James Raphael, our lead for Serious and Organised Crime said: “Last week we sent another strong message to those engaged in county lines and organised crime that there is no place for them in Avon and Somerset or anywhere else in the South West.

“Whether you are running drugs into our area; exporting drugs to other areas of the country; operating in local neighbourhoods, across roads network or via transport hubs; or intend to profiteer from using children, young people, or vulnerable adults in your crimes, we are spelling out that we are looking for you, we will pursue you, and we won’t stop until we arrest you.

“Last week’s operation is the culmination of many months of intensive planning by our teams. We are grateful to members of the public who have shared information with us, that has contributed to our knowledge. Such operations will continue.

“With county lines criminality continuing to bring untold misery, fear, and violence into our communities, we urge the public to play their part by reporting when they know, or suspect drug or other crime is happening in their neighbourhood. This can be reported to us online, by calling 101 or anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers. If a crime is happening at that moment, then please call 999.

“We review all information received, helping us build a picture of activity and informing our investigations.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford said: 
“It was a privilege to go out and watch our brave police in action, putting themselves in harm’s way to apprehend people who make our communities less safe. That this was part of a coordinated week of action across the South West demonstrates our commitment to making the South West a hostile environment for illegal drug use and exploitation.”

*‘County lines’ is a term used to describe criminals and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into the UK’s towns and villages, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store drugs and money and will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.