Police seize £30,000 cash during week of action tackling county lines
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A car, two imitation firearms and £30,000 in cash were seized by police as part of a week of action tackling county drugs lines.
Three people were arrested and cannabis worth more than £300,000 confiscated as part of the wide ranging crackdown by officers in Bedfordshire which saw police work with a whole host of other agencies.
County lines typically involves drugs gangs selling their products in other towns using a dedicated phone line.
These offenders are often linked to serious violence and use intimidation, grooming and exploitation, particularly of young or vulnerable people, to run drug dealing networks across the country.
On Tuesday (28 February) officers uncovered a cannabis farm in Bedford with plants worth up to £175,000 seized. A man in his 20s was subsequently charged with cultivation of cannabis.
The following day a joint operation in Watford with police in Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire led to a further arrest where a suspected county lines dealer was subsequently charged with being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
Then on Thursday (2 March) Bedfordshire Police seized around £30,000 in cash and a Mercedes as part of a separate operation targeting a county drugs line in Luton.
Enforcement action continued this week in Bedfordshire, with cannabis worth around £150,000 seized by officers in Luton yesterday (Wednesday).
Teams within Bedfordshire Police also carried out a number of different safeguarding activities in an attempt to raise awareness about these issues.
This included visits by officers to taxi firms as well as bus and railway stations, while the county’s weapons bins were emptied.
More than 300 young people also attended a youth conference organised by the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) and Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye, which featured educational talks about issues like county lines and knife crime.
Detectives this week also sat down with Luton Urban Radio as part of a new show The Public and the Police, to discuss county lines, child criminal exploitation and what is being done to keep young people safe.
The discussion has now been made available as a podcast.
Detective Inspector Tom Stean from Bedfordshire Police’s guns and gang team said: “I’m proud of all the efforts and action undertaken by teams across the force during this county lines intensification week.
“We are making huge strides towards ensuring Bedfordshire is a safer and more clued up county on violence and exploitation.
“We are getting the message out there to young people and going after organised crime kingpins – they know they are not safe to operate here and we will drive them out, one by one.”
Detective Inspector Kelly Gray, county lines coordinator at the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, added: “Significant work continues to take place across the region to target those operating drugs lines and to provide safeguarding and support to the vulnerable and young people who are often being exploited.
“Nearly 150 people were arrested across eastern England during the intensification period, with roughly 2,000 wraps of heroin and cocaine seized along with cannabis and illicit prescription medicines. Weapons including knives and a firearm were also found and seized.
“A clear indicator of the scale of criminality involved is that more than £85,000 in cash was also seized during the operation. However, we frequently find that those profiting most from county drugs lines often keep their hands clean of the running of drugs and instead exploit vulnerable people to do their dirty work for them.
“That’s why we continue to urge parents and carers to look for the signs that their child may be being exploited for criminal gain.”