Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

A leading police officer has said that the force in Essex achieves strong results by going after the drug king in the county – when more than 6 kg of drugs were seized from the streets in one week.

Essex Police made 55 arrests, seized £ 180,000 in cash and took more than 6kg of drugs off the street as part of a week-long operation focusing on disrupting County Line’s drug supply.

The so-called “County Lines Intensification Week” took place throughout the county between October 11 and October 17 and was aimed at the supply of medicine between Essex and London.

Read more: The latest crime news from all over Essex

Acting The Supt Lewis Basford said the work was a culmination of the force that changed tactics to go after the leaders of the operations by tracking telephone lines, rather than targeting street trading in the first place.

Of the 55 arrests made by the Op Raptor team in Essex, 39 people were charged, 13 people were released during investigation and three people were released without charge.

As a result, 13 county lines have been disrupted.

In total, Essex Police seized £ 180,000, 2.5 kg of crack cocaine, 2.5 kg of heroin, 56 g of cocaine, 1.6 kg of cannabis and 17 MDMA pills. 84 telephone lines were uncovered, including nine that were county lines.

A suspected drug dealer is handcuffed by police in Basildon
Some of the suspected drugs seized in Basildon during County Line raids by Essex Police

In addition, police seized £ 2,500 for designer clothing, bags and hats as well as a wide range of weapons; two samurai swords and knuckle dusters, a zombie knife, hunting knife, machete and sword.

In addition to the arrests, ten people were referred for protection.

The arrests were made throughout the county and into London and other parts of the East, including Southend, Westcliff, Leigh, Basildon, Grays, Harlow, Chelmsford, Colchester, Clacton, Dagenham, Barking, Chingford, Aveley, Enfield and Bedford.

That Supt Lewis Basford said the action week was planned for the last month.

He said: “About a year ago, we created the unit on serious violence for Essex for the growth program.

“Before we were on this team together, we used to go out and look for people who were supplying Class A drugs in cities like Southend and Basildon and took the issue up at face value from what the public sees.

Police officers are searching for an address in Basildon for drug activity
Police officers are searching for an address in Basildon for drug activity

“We are now working the investigation backwards; we prepare the numbers and mobile phones that will supply the drugs to the districts.

“We’re taking about two to three weeks at a time around a County Lines operation now, it was months, but now it’s weeks.

“The intensification was just one week, but it was about three weeks into the planning.”

The Supt Basford said County Lines operations would often target people based in Essex districts to be their feet on the ground.

He also said the force is seeing stronger results from the Crown Courts; Leaders of County Lines operations when convicted receive an average of three to five years in prison – when they previously looked at 16 months of giving or taking.

But police work to wind up County Lines operations does not always go directly to the criminal courts.

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That Supt Basford said: “We want to involve young people who may be subjected to coercion. We seem to offer diversion from the offenders. Not all those we target will go to the crown in lawsuits.

“Threats can be made against them by telephone if they do not complete the work of the county line.

“Our job at Essex Police is to maintain public safety for a long time. Even if they try to divert, if it does not work, it will delay the coronation. Some people have almost waited for police diversion.

“But we get the people who made that decision, either through family makeup or something else.”

The Supt Basford said the work of the police meant that there have been some days when known class A drug addicts were unable to get the drugs they were addicted to and ongoing work with partners in counseling and charitable causes will bring a “public health approach”.

This will be to encourage addicts to “not resort to other crimes to fund their habits”.

Police are also conducting more regular checks on more vulnerable adults in different districts to protect them from “cuckooing”, a process in which drug dealers take over people’s properties to carry out their criminal act.

That Supt Basford said: “We make sure they are safe and if they suffer from coercion, try to enter their property.”

He added advice to families who may suspect that their younger relatives may be involved in such surgeries.

A suspect is led out to a police car by an officer in Basildon

He said: “Behavior before the marker that it is children who disconnect, cash or products are bought for them. Early notification means we can come and help.

“It’s not always about enforcement, but if families are concerned about their children, we will work with them to make sure they do not get involved in that violation.”

Report police crimes to the police by calling 101 or visiting essex.police.uk. You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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