Police are urging people to stay vigilant during lockdown as drug dealers change tactics.
The South West has its fair share of dealings with ‘County Lines’ drug cases. However, they need the public’s help to ensure that drugs are kept off the streets during the pandemic.
County Lines is a term that describes gangs supplying drugs to other parts of the country via dedicated mobile phones. These gangs often use children or vulnerable adults to move drugs across the UK, and many are coerced into doing so.
Detective Superintendent Edward Wright from Devon & Cornwall Police said: “When the restrictions were implemented, initially we saw a decrease in drug dealing. However, we know the gangs and ‘County Lines’ suppliers are still operating – they are just changing their methods to get round the restrictions.
“We already know a lot about their activities and how they have changed their operations, but we always want to know more and help from the public is invaluable. Therefore, we are asking members of the public to tell us if they have seen anything suspicious or have concerns about people within their community.”
The police are calling for the public to remain vigilant during this time and to report anything suspicious. Things to watch out for include many people coming and going from homes and unknown characters regularly attending properties.
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “Taking drugs off our street is a priority for all of us. The force is proactive in capturing ‘County Lines’ gangs and over 400 years of jail-time handed down to those that have been caught.”
She also went on to say: “Let’s stamp out the crimes that are happening in our communities by spotting and reporting them so they can be tackled.
“Let’s save more of our young people and those who are vulnerable by stepping up and not tolerating drug dealing in our communities any longer.”
Police in the area have been leading campaigns to stamp out ‘County Lines’ criminals for the past few years, and this activity has led to several convictions. In the past year, the police have attended 194 disruptions regarding ‘County Lines’ groups.
A few days ago, Devon and Cornwall Police stopped a vehicle on the M5 near Exeter that contained over £30,000 of counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes. Officers at the scene described that the driver was also using his mum’s mobility car to transport the products. Plus, of course, he was taking non-essential travel during the lockdown.
Alongside a picture of the counterfeit haul, The Alliance Roads Policing Team tweeted ‘“No… It’s is not essential to drop off your counterfeit tobacco products… or use your mums motability car for that purpose.”
Devon and Cornwall Police have asked individuals to report any suspicious activity using their online contact channels, dc.police.uk/contact. Alternatively, you can call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report online at crimestoppers-uk.org.”