More than 1,000 people have been arrested and an estimated £1.2m worth of drugs seized in a police crackdown on so-called “county lines” gangs.
Young and vulnerable people are used as couriers to move drugs and cash between cities and smaller towns.
Police said raids in the past week, involving all 43 regional forces in England and Wales, had been the most successful of their kind.
Almost 200 weapons and £526,000 in cash were also seized.
The operation resulted in:
- 1,041 arrests
- The discovery of an estimated £876,000 worth of cocaine, £87,000 worth of crack cocaine and £234,000 worth of heroin
- Seizure of £526,000 of cash
- Confiscation of 196 weapons including 130 knives, 18 firearms, 5 samurai swords and 10 knuckledusters
- 102 “deal line” devices, linked to phone numbers used to buy drugs, were shut down
- 1,551 vulnerable people were contacted by police for safeguarding purposes
- 69 referrals to the National Referral Mechanism as potential victims of human trafficking/modern slavery
- Visits to 861 cuckooed addresses – a practice where drugs gangs take over the homes of vulnerable people to sell drugs
County lines are a “catalyst for a range of criminality including serious violence, modern slavery, drug trafficking and anti-social behaviour”, the National Police Chiefs’ Council said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the results of the operation were “hugely impressive” and tackling county lines was a “priority” for the government.
She said it had invested £25m in the “crucial work”.