After a week-long raid on county lines gangs in London, the Metropolitan Police claim to have made more than 200 arrests and seized drugs worth more than one million pounds.
Between Monday, February 27, and Sunday, March 5, Met officers filed 223 accusations against 105 people, including 150 for drug trafficking and 131 for possession of Class A and B substances. The action also resulted in the protection of 177 vulnerable individuals.
Officers also recovered 51 weapons, including knives, machetes, and swords, five firearms, 8.3 kilograms of class A drugs, 37.6 kilograms of class B drugs, £652,214 in cash, and 51 other items.
Met Police said the probe has also discovered multiple incidents of vulnerable youngsters being preyed on by perpetrators and “treated as a commodity”.
Instead of criminalizing these kids, police collaborate with Rescue and Response to keep them safe and supported, according to a statement from the Met.
Detective Superintendent Rick Sewart, the senior accountable officer for county lines at the Met, stated that county lines – a drug supply network which traffics drugs into rural areas and smaller towns, away from major cities – was “intrinsically linked to homicide and significant violence”.
80% of county lines offenders accused of drug trafficking during this fiscal year, he continued, had previously been detained for violent crimes.
County lines networks prey on children and young people, trafficking them and subjecting them to horrific emotional and physical abuse in the name of modern slavery, according to Mr. Sewart.
“Victims are forced to keep and supply drugs by means of assault, blackmail, and debt servitude.
“Those engaged threaten and intimidate victims with weapons and severe violence, including kidnapping.”
Additionally, he claimed that county lines networks preyed on the weak to feed addictions to Class A drugs.
Earlier this month, the British Transport Police (BTP) warned that juvenile males as young as 13 were being recruited with promises of money and presents to work for drug dealers.
In order to take advantage of alleged “business opportunities” advertised on social media, young people were given cash, cell phones, vapes, and clothes. BTP officers claimed to have seen messages sent out by drug dealers asking “who wants to make £500 this weekend?” in an effort to enlist them in gangs.
In a BTP-commissioned poll of 1,500 males between the ages of 13 and 19, 19% reported that they or a friend had been offered job by a drug dealer.
20% of the males surveyed in the OnePoll study knew someone who transported or sold drugs, according to the survey.
According to the report, 15% of teenagers and 18% of students had both witnessed the sale or offer of drugs on social media.