Bedfordshire Police have made two arrests and seized drugs and weapons in Bedford as part of a national crackdown on county drugs lines.
Warrants were carried out at five addresses in Bedford across three days of action last week.
A number of people have now been offered safeguarding support as part of the operation.
PC James West, from Bedfordshire Police’s specialist Operation Nola county lines team, said: “County lines is a vile business where organised crime exploits children and other vulnerable people in the pursuit of selling drugs.
“Last week was particularly focussed around cuckooing, where dealers take over the home of someone and use it as a base to produce and sell their products.
“We will continue to make Bedfordshire a hostile place for dealers looking to operate in our county and protect these vulnerable people from being exploited.”
Two lines coming into Bedford from other areas have been dismantled already this year, with those involved jailed for a total of 11-and-a-half years.
Bedfordshire Police’s dedicated county lines team, Operation Nola, has made more than 60 arrests and seized around £20,000 worth of drugs since it launched last year.
Meanwhile, across 2018, Bedfordshire Police seized around £1 million of drugs and £400,000 of criminal cash, and gave evidence in 156 drug trafficking cases.
Since January 2018, 219 people linked to organised crime groups (OCGs) have been arrested, with OCG offenders jailed for a total of 338 years over the same timeframe.
More than 20 OCGs based in Bedfordshire have been identified, most of which are linked to the supply of drugs.
All of those OCGs linked to firearms are also linked to drugs, with many firearms discharges and incidents assessed to be related to tensions between rival gangs that supply drugs.
Nikki Holland, National Crime Agency county lines lead and director of investigations, said: “Tackling the county lines networks exploiting young people and bringing potentially deadly drugs and violence to communities is a top law enforcement priority.
“These latest results show that, thanks to the co-ordinated effort with our partners in police forces and regional organised crime units, we are dismantling these criminal networks piece by piece.”
Nationally, between 7 and 13 October:
- 652 men and 91 women were arrested;
- 389 vulnerable adults and 292 children were engaged for safeguarding purposes;
- 655 cuckooed addresses were visited
- 49 ‘deal lines’ were seized;
- There were 41 referrals to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which assesses individuals as potential victims of human trafficking/modern slavery;
- Officers seized cash totalling £183,976
- 169 weapons were seized including 12 firearms, swords, machetes, an axe, knives, samurai swords, and a crossbow
- Significant amounts of drugs were recovered, totalling £426,040: £253,200 worth of cocaine, £100,170 worth of crack cocaine and £72,670 worth of heroin
If you suspect someone is at risk of being exploited by organised crime, you can report it to police on 101 or via the online reporting centre on the Bedfordshire Police website.
You can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.