11 arrests as police crack down on ‘toxic drug networks’ in Suffolk
Officers in Suffolk made 11 arrests as part of a national crackdown on “toxic” county lines drug networks across the UK.
Suffolk police executed nine search warrants during the week and recovered £800 in cash and seized cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis along with four weapons.
Officers also conducted proactive patrols around railway stations in Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket and engaged with 26 vulnerable individuals understood to be victims of ‘cuckooing’ during welfare visits.
Last week’s national operation, which involved all 43 regional forces in England and Wales, the British Transport Police and the National Crime Agency, led to nearly 200 weapons being seized and £526,000 in cash recovered.
Police said the operation, which targeted county lines, a gang model which often sees young and vulnerable people used as couriers to move drugs and cash between cities and smaller towns, was the most successful of its kind.
Police forces across the country also shut down about 10% of the phone lines (102) being used for county lines drug dealing.
MORE: How many county lines drug routes are operating following Covid-19?
Among those arrested in Suffolk included:
• A 16-year-old boy arrested in The Vinefields area of Bury St Edmunds on suspicion of possession of class a drugs with intent to supply. He was subsequently bailed.
• Police also arrested a 17-year-old boy in Ipswich on Tuesday, September 15 in Prospect Street on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon. He was arrested and taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre (PIC) for questioning and released under investigation.
• In Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday, September 15, four people were arrested in the Lake Avenue area of the town on suspicion of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply. A 24-year-old man, a 45-year-old man, a 24-year-old and a 36-year-old woman were all taken to Bury St Edmunds Police Investigation Centre for questioning and released under investigation pending further enquiries.
• On Thursday, September 17, two men were arrested at a property on Newham Court in Ipswich. Officers had cause to conduct a warrant and recovered a large quantity of cash and a large amount of drug paraphernalia from the property.
• A 17-year-old boy and 23-year-old man were both arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of drugs. After being taken to Martlesham Heath Police Investigation Centre, they were both released on bail to answer on October 10.
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• On Sunday, September 20, a 16-year-old boy was arrested outside Ipswich railway station on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of drugs and money laundering after he was found in possession of a large quantity of cash. He was released on police bail pending further enquiries.
Weapon sweeps were also conducted in various areas, including the Maple Park area of Ipswich and Langer Park in Felixstowe, to recover any easy-to-reach or concealed items that could be used for violent offences, police said.
MORE: Cuckooed addict ‘made to eat dog food and lick boots of drug dealers’
Temporary Chief Superintendent Marina Ericson said: “It’s important to point out that although the past week saw dedicated activity, our work to address the issue of county lines and drug supply is something we tackle all year round.
“County Lines causes misery for communities and we continue to put significant effort into identifying and arresting those involved. We are determined to shine a spotlight on and bring to justice those running these toxic drug networks.
“The situation remains that while our enforcement continues, this is not an issue we can tackle alone, as indicated by our engagement work outlined above. Local agencies, charities, partners, schools, parents all need to help us protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
“I am very proud to see the impact Suffolk Constabulary has had – working with the National Crime Agency and neighbouring police forces to ensure we tackle County Lines from every angle bring these criminals to justice.”
Suffolk police said it has also been liaising with housing partnerships on the issue of cuckooing – where the homes of vulnerable adults and young people are frequently used by drug dealers to run their businesses – and provided advice for landlords and tenants about the signs to look out for.
The force’s school liaison officers and youth engagement teams have also engaged with schools and colleges, providing advice, leaflets and talks.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, said the force is “punching above its weight” in tackling county lines drug dealing.
“I am very pleased to see the very positive outcome of this national week of action – the impressive results speak for themselves,” he said.
“County lines is a huge issue nationally and it definitely requires a partnership approach at national regional and local levels, working with other police forces and local councils and partners. I am very proud of Suffolk’s collective approach to this dreadful issue which wrecks lives and causes misery to communities.
“Suffolk Constabulary is most certainly punching above its weight in its dealing with county lines.
“I’d like to publicly thank the constabulary for their relentless commitment to these appalling crimes and even with the challenges they face due to Covid-19, their dedication to keeping drugs off our streets continues unabated.”
Mr Passmore added: “I will continue to do what I can through my PCC Fund to financially support organisations which help to keep young people out of trouble and away from the dangers of drugs.”
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