Almost 20 people were arrested in Brighton and Hove last week during an operation to crack down on county lines drug gangs.
Three men were arrested at Montpelier Place, Brighton where the drugs pictured above were seized. Drugs and cash were also seized at other city addresses, including Terminus Place and Madeira Drive, where two more men were arrested.
And arrests were made at Brighton Station, where officers from both Sussex Police and British Transport Police put up a knife detector arch.
In total, 18 people were arrested, ten for Class A drugs supply offences, three for grievous bodily harm, one for possession of offensive weapon, and five others for vehicle-related offences.
2300 wraps of Class A drugs worth around £26,000 and 1-2 kilos of cannabis were recovered along with £8500 Cash.
14 mobile phones were seized from suspects, together with two weapons, a knuckleduster and a knife and two drug warrants were executed.
Sergeant James Ward said: “Our work in just one week produced some fantastic results with Departments pulling together to enable signiifcant arrests and safeguarding, and considerable disruption to County Line activity in the city.”
Detective Chief Inspector Will Rolls said: “County Line drug dealing continues to be a threat with currently 36 county lines active across Sussex. The force’s primary concern remains the exploitation and trafficking of vulnerable adults and children.
“The week of intensified activity focused on disrupting the activities of those involved in County Lines by safeguarding and protecting vulnerable people, pursuing offenders, reducing the number of lines, and seizing proceeds of crime.”
Last week, local officers working with the force’s Specialist Enforcement Unit use of automatic number plate recognition, and surveillance of suspects in the city.
Proactive stop checks resulted in the arrest of a suspect for possessing drugs with intent to supply,
Police also worked closely with local partners including Adult Substance Use Services, the Council Taxi Enforcement Team and the Temporary Housing ASB Department.
In addition, officers and staff were active in prevention, protection and safeguarding. 57 educational visits were made to hotels where officers engaged with managers and staff and provided them with literature to help them spot the signs of child exploitation.
Four visits were made to taxi firms, and partnership work with city taxi enforcement officers and some 50 drivers were spoken to at ranks and provided with CrimeStoppers reporting cards and a child exploitation ‘A Taxi Drivers View’ leaflet.
15 visits were made to letting agents where officers spoke with management and staff and provided them with posters about spotting the signs of exploitation and identifying ‘cuckooing’.
Secondary schools were visited by police Youth Intervention officers who engaged with over 280 children around the dangers of exploitation, showed educational videos to pupils about the risks of knife crime.
The Sussex Police community engagement van was also deployed at key locations in the city where attempted recruitment of young county lines ‘runners’ has been suspected in the past.
Local officers were joined by the force’s recruitment team and they positively engaged with many young people and other members of the public highlighting the dangers of county lines and criminal exploitation whilst also encouraging them to consider policing as a career.
During 2020 Sussex Police recorded 236 disruptions against such ‘lines’ into the county, mainly from London, an increase of 171% in disruptions over the previous year.
During the past year co-ordinated police activity has stepped up even further, with a new Surrey and Sussex Police intelligence team known as Operation Centurion, which works with London’s Metropolitan Police to better target and prosecute offenders of county lines activity between the capital, Surrey and Sussex.
In the six months since the team’s inception, they have contributed to more than 50 lines being disrupted, and to charges of over 60 individuals across both counties.
The work of Centurion’s specialist teams includes analysis from mobile phones used by dealers to buy and sell class-A drugs. This information is critical to investigators, helping them target the most significant members of organised crime groups and ensuring longer term disruption.
DCI Rolls said: “Even during the recent lockdowns we continued every day to disrupt dealers who try to deal dangerous drugs across our communities and we target those who use children to sell drugs or those who buy drugs from children.
“We investigate and prosecute, working relentlessly and targeting those who would bring harm to local people, including often the most vulnerable.
“As lockdown restrictions lifted, police have started to see those involved in this criminality trying to return to their normal methods of operation. The streets are busier, their criminality is less obvious.
“Local crime is often a direct result of major drug distribution via county lines and by working together with partners to shed a light on this often hidden crime. We are sending a clear message to drug dealers that they cannot expect to go undetected in Sussex.
“We also work closely with other agencies to support those vulnerable adults and children who are exploited by county line gangs. This includes regular visits to those adults at risk of cuckooing and raising awareness with those agencies engaged with children to ensure that information is shared effectively to prevent young people being drawn in to this criminality.”