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Week of action to tackle county lines drug dealing takes place in Hampshire

Hampshire Police have been taking part in a week of action against county lines drug dealing.

Officers in the county also made 48 arrests and safeguarded 28 people who were caught up in the dealing, that usually exploits children and vulnerable people.

Nearly £18,000 in cash, 39 phones and six knives were also seized.

Warrants were executed in Southampton, Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Aldershot, Andover and the Isle of Wight during the week.

Chief Inspector Mark Lynch led the operation:

“County Lines is a continuous threat to our communities, these drug dealers bring misery, fear and violence with them, they don’t care what damage they cause.

“These organised crime groups use county lines as a business model to prey on the most vulnerable and what we tend to see is that where there is county lines there is often an increase in violent crime as rival networks come into conflict.

“I’m very pleased with the significant results of how the operation went.”

“As well as targeting those involved in county lines crime, Hampshire Constabulary also sees educating potential victims as an important preventative measure.”

Superintendent Matt Reeves, Tactical Lead for Drug Related Harm at Hampshire Constabulary, said:

“As a Force we recognise the risk, we work closely with other forces to tackle the complex and widespread issue of county lines and will use a powerful enforcement response to detect and deter criminality in our communities.

“We have taken action to disrupt and dismantle supply networks and alongside our partners we assisted those involved in the fringe of criminality due to their own vulnerability or dependence on drugs to find safety and help break the cycle.

“Much of our work isn’t overt, a lot involves safeguarding the most vulnerable in our society.

“We continue to work with our colleagues in education, social care, transport networks and charities among others to tackle this issue in collaboration.”  

“What is often overlooked when we talk about drug dealing networks is that there are genuine victims that get caught up in the county lines business.

“Hardened criminals who will deliberately target the most vulnerable and exploit them to carry out their illegal work.

“These are often young people and adults with mental health, addictions or unmanageable debt.”

55 year old Michael was a victim of cuckooing.

Police say his home was taken over by drug dealers from London in January. His experiences have left him in fearful and in debt:

“I still feel their presence now it was a terrible ordeal…

“They just turned up one day and said we want to do business from here.

“I said no and they just yes you are… and I knew what that meant. They said I’d get hurt and stuff like that, they pulled out their knives, it was horrible.

“I’ll always feel vulnerable it ain’t left my head I don’t know if it will leave my head.”

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