Met collaboration will dismantle ‘county lines’ into Suffolk, say police

PUBLISHED: 12:57 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:57 03 June 2020

The operation aims to shut down dealers at the source  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

The operation aims to shut down dealers at the source Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

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Police believe a joint crackdown on county lines crime gangs will put a major dent in the supply of Class A drugs into the county.

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYDetective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

The force has been working with the Met police to target controllers of county lines running between London and Suffolk.

Suffolk is among 11 forces to join Operation Orochi since it launched last November.

The operation aims to shut down dealers at the source by analysing data on mobile phones used to buy and sell.

Since February, Suffolk officers have shared intelligence with a Met team dedicated to identifying the line controller.

Last week, police arrested and charged two men in connection with drug offences in the Haverhill area since July 2019.

Warrants were executed at addresses in Ilford and Margate, where two men were arrested by Met officers on behalf of Suffolk’s serious crime disruption team.

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Both men were remanded in custody when they appeared before magistrates last Friday.

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said the operation put police in a strong position to charge and remand drugs line controllers on the day of arrest, before they can pass the line to an associate effectively shutting it down.

“Working with the Met in this way will clearly have a significant impact on the supply of Class A drugs into Suffolk,” he added.

“Getting the people who control these drugs supply lines – the organised criminals at the centre of these networks – leads to their whole drugs operation being dismantled.

“We can then look to protect those young people who are often ruthlessly exploited to sell the drugs on our streets, as well as those at risk from the violence associated with county lines.

“This operation allows us to build a compelling evidential case before making any arrests. We are able to share intelligence in real-time leading to fast-time investigations.”

County lines networks use phone lines to set up deals from urban bases with customers in more rural areas.

The National Crime Agency estimates there are up to 1,100 county lines numbers in use in the UK at any one time.

Under Operation Orochi, police have closed 87 county lines – including 20 into Norfolk, where 25 people have been charged and remanded, and eight sentenced, for drug supply offences.

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