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Those involved in the exploitation of others in order to sell drugs across the county were targeted recently during a week of intensification work by Northamptonshire Police.
As part of the nationally-coordinated County Lines Intensification Week, between October 11 and 17, the Force took part in a range of activity designed to disrupt and bring to justice those involved in county lines drug dealing, as well as safeguard vulnerable people, including children.
County lines is the name given to the illegal activity of gangs and organised criminal networks which transport and sell drugs from larger cities and towns into smaller areas using dedicated phone lines, often exploiting children and vulnerable adults to move, store and deal the drugs.
During the week the Force carried out enforcement activity and executed five warrants across Northampton which resulted in the seizure of illegal class A drugs, weapons and cash, and the safeguarding of vulnerable people.
Further operational activity included proactive patrols and knife sweeps in key areas, with officers also carrying out educational sessions with students and conducting visits to people at risk of cuckooing, where a vulnerable person’s home is taken over by others who use it to store, take or sell drugs.
Cross-border work also took place with neighbouring forces to target lines running into and out of Northamptonshire. A total of seven arrests were made across the week for drugs and weapons offences.
Detective Superintendent Lee McBride, Northamptonshire Police’s lead for tackling serious and organised crime, said: “We’re committed to targeting this kind of organised crime year-round, but County Lines Intensification Week gives us a great opportunity to really shine a light on what we do.
“Our work throughout the week was rewarding and wide-ranging, from targeting the criminals running these gangs to helping those exploited by them, as well as educating young people about how to spot and avoid getting caught up in county lines activity.
“A huge amount of work goes into preventing and punishing county lines and drug-related criminality in Northamptonshire, week in, week out. If you have any information or concerns about this kind of activity, please continue to report it to us so we can support you and take action.”
Leading up to the intensification week, county lines enforcement work resulted in two men being charged with drugs offences.
Kwesi Asiedu, aged 34, of Jenner Road, Hackney, London, was charged with being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
He appeared before Northampton Magistrates’ Court on September 30 and was remanded in custody ahead of his next appearance at Northampton Crown Court on November 12.
Leon Antony Johnson, aged 34, of Yorkshire Close, Hackney, London, was charged with being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, possession with intent to supply cocaine, possession with intent to supply crack cocaine, and possession with intent to supply heroin.
He will next appear in court on November 12.
If you have information about drug dealing in your area, or if you’re concerned that someone may be involved in county lines, call Northamptonshire Police on 101, or 999 in an emergency. You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.fearless.org
Police and charity The Children’s Society are sharing #LookCloser advice to help people spot the signs that a young person may be being exploited by county lines gangs:
Find out more here: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/our-work/child-criminal-exploitation-and-county-lines/spotting-signs