Police have made 45 arrests and seized large sums of cash and drugs during a week-long assault on dealers using kids and young people to spread misery.
Lancashire Police officers took to the streets as they launched a blitz on county lines drug dealing and illicit trading networks across the county.
County Lines is typically when a city-based gang takes over the drug market of another town or city, controlling street deals remotely via a phone number managed by senior members from afar.
While those holding the 'graft' phone may be based miles from the streets on which their drugs are sold, it is their dealers who are on the ground - often young teens manipulated into moving away from friends and family and being placed at risk while being trapped by debt and fear.
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County Lines Intensification Week ran nationally from October 11 to 17 and saw operations, dedicated warrants, safeguarding of and visits to vulnerable people, as well as schoolchildren, to educate them on the issue across Lancashire.
Police bosses said 30 adults and 20 young people, who had been identified as being vulnerable, were engaged with. Another 39 men and six women were arrested, along with 13 people aged under 18.
Over 636 cannabis plants, as well as quantities of cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine and mobile phones were also seized, along with more than £77,000 in cash.
Nine addresses believed to have been cuckooed were also visited, with the occupants being signposted to local help services.
Schools were visited across the county, with some sessions supported by charity the JJ Effect and former members of gangs, to educate youngsters on the potential consequences of becoming involved in county lines.
Detective Superintendent Becky Smith, force lead for County Lines at Lancashire Constabulary, said: “This week’s activity which was in conjunction with the national effort to target and disrupt those involved in organised crime is just a snippet of the work we do across Lancashire along with our partners in Health, Children’s Social Care and Education, day in day out, to tackle County Lines.
“We use this term to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line’.
“Their activity is associated with violence, drug dealing and the exploitation of children and vulnerable people, to move drugs and money. They will also seek to establish a base in target locations, typically taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion.
"We have prioritised our approach to tackling county lines over the last few years putting our efforts into identifying those responsible as well as working with our partners to drive awareness in schools and to identify those vulnerable to this type of exploitation and implement effective safeguarding.
“We are committed to working alongside our partners and other forces to close down these lines, protect vulnerable people and remove those who exploit them from our streets.
“We will continue working in this way to disrupt anyone believed to be involved in county lines and will use all available powers to secure significant sentences against those who are responsible, using not just legislation around drug supply but newer legislation aimed at those involved in trafficking of children. Our intention is to make Lancashire an uncomfortable place for these criminals to operate.
“We need the public, especially those who care for or interact with children and vulnerable adults, to continue to work with us by understanding the issue and looking out for the warning signs.
“If you suspect there is drug dealing going on in your area, please report it to us.”
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