27 people arrested, drugs, cash and weapons seized in Sussex Police crackdown on county lines drug trafficking

Sussex Police carried out a crackdown on county lines drug trafficking this month.

County lines is the practice of trafficking drugs into rural areas and towns, away from major cities.

From May 17-22 work against county lines was intensified as part of a continuing national effort.

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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.”

Drugs seized when three men were arrested at an address in Montepelier Road, Hove. Photo from Sussex Police. SUS-210527-121948001

The week involved:

• Proactive targeting of drug related activity, resulting in 27 arrests, seizure of drugs with an estimated street value of at least £66,000, £10,000 cash, 16 mobile phones and four weapons including a machete and a knuckleduster.

• 56 enhanced ‘cuckoo’ checks at addresses, involving identification of a further 17 people including two children, vulnerable to predatory drug dealers.

• Educational visits to 69 hotels, B&Bs and taxi firms to talk about the risks of exploitation.

This shows cash seized when officers raided an address in Terminus Road, Brighton. Photo from Sussex Police. SUS-210527-121927001

• Awareness sessions at six schools.

Sergeant James Ward said, “Our work in just one week produced some fantastic results with departments pulling together to enable significant arrests and safeguarding, and considerable disruption to county line activity in the city.”

In East Sussex, Hastings neighbourhood officers working with the force’s Specialist Enforcement Unit (SEU) and using various surveillance tactics, observed a drug deal take place on a street in St Leonards. SEU officers moved in to carry out an arrest and the suspect was seen to enter a house nearby. Officers carried entered the house to locate and arrest the man before items could be lost.

Upon gaining entry to the house, two suspects were found in a bedroom where a quantity of cash and mobile phones were evident on the bed nearby. Both were arrested while a search revealed 17 wraps of crack and heroin on the bed.

This photo shows more drugs seized by officers when they arrested two men at Madeira Drive. Photo from Sussex Police. SUS-210527-121938001

A 40-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, both from London, were arrested. Both had recently been arrested having been found in similar circumstances in Kent.

While at custody a further search of the girl revealed another quantity of cash and up to 200+ wraps of crack and heroin.

Both were interviewed and released on police bail while the investigation continues. The girl was later returned to London by the police for her own safety and welfare.

In West Sussex, officers from the Community Investigation Team (CIT) executed early morning warrants with the assistance of the Metropolitan Police at addresses in Mitcham, South London. Some £10,000 in cash was seized along with £1,000 worth of crack cocaine. Mobile phones and laptops were also seized along with drugs paraphernalia.

Two women and two men were arrested on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs, and modern slavery offences and were interviewed in Sussex before being released on police bail while enquiries continue. A fifth suspect, a man, has since been arrested in Worthing and is being interviewed.

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 forming. The team 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 more than 60 individuals across both counties.

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.

“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.”

Members of the public can also help, you can report suspicions to local police online or by calling 101.

Safe Space Sussex signposts you to all the local organisations who provide support for those affected by drugs misuse: https://www.safespacesussex.org.uk/search?query=drugs