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More than 200 London drug dealers are targeting Suffolk towns

PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:32 22 September 2019

Rhyone Hinkson, 23, Mohamed Abdullahi, 20, and Michael Martin, 18, were all jailed for their part in a county lines drug-dealing operation  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Rhyone Hinkson, 23, Mohamed Abdullahi, 20, and Michael Martin, 18, were all jailed for their part in a county lines drug-dealing operation Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Suffolk Constabulary

More than 200 Londoners linked to drug gangs have been found in Suffolk in just 15 months.

Children are being used to courier drugs from London onto Suffolk's streets Picture: SUFFOLK POLICEChildren are being used to courier drugs from London onto Suffolk's streets Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

The figures, released by the Mayor of London on Thursday, show that 4,000 people have been recruited by drug gangs in the capital to run networks spread across 41 counties in the UK.

The criminal networks, known as county lines, deliberately target children and vulnerable adults to courier drugs from cities to addicts across the country.

Suffolk had the sixth highest number of people linked to London drug gangs; there were 238, including 65 in Ipswich.

The figures are for people arrested for county lines or where intelligence has linked them to county lines.

Dealing with county lines drugs gangs is a top priority for Suffolk police Picture: ANGELA SHARPEDealing with county lines drugs gangs is a top priority for Suffolk police Picture: ANGELA SHARPE

Coastal areas and county towns near London had the highest number of people linked back to county lines gangs in London, the report said.

Almost half were aged between 15 and 19 (46pc), 90pc were male.

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, from Suffolk police, said: "It is a force priority to ensure that our county remains a hostile environment for those involved in the supply of illegal drugs.

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"County drugs lines have a significant impact on towns across the eastern region and drive a wide range of criminality."

In May three young Londoners were jailed for almost five years each for dealing crack and heroin in Ipswich and Clacton.

They were caught after using the same hire car twice in a week.

Rhyone Hinkson, 23, Mohamed Abdullahi, 20, and Michael Martin, 18, were found, sleeping in a red Mercedes, parked with its lights off and engine running in Macaulay Road, Ipswich, on January 15.

Police found 32 wraps of crack cocaine, 22 wraps of heroin, and a kitchen knife under the front passenger seat.

In 2018 London mayor Sadiq Khan gave £3 million over three years to a programme to try to rescue under-25s who were lured into county lines.

Those referred to the programme included one boy who was set up for exclusion from school by gang members who wanted to draw him into crime.

Another had witnessed domestic violence as a child was kidnapped and forced to work off a "debt" he had incurred when he got arrested.

The youngest person identified was 11.

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