As part of a national week of action aimed at disrupting County Lines drug gangs in Essex, our specialist officers made 49 arrests, seized almost £100,000 in cash, 300g of loose Class A drugs and more than 1,100 prepared wraps of cocaine.
Eight County Lines have been disrupted and 11 people have been charged. Our investigations continue into those who were either released on bail or released under investigation.
County Lines Intensification Week took place across the country between March 7 and March 13.
In total, officers from our Serious Violence Unit seized:
£96,509 in cash
126g of crack cocaine
30.5g of loose cocaine
1,149 prepared wraps of cocaine
11g of ketamine
The arrests were made across the county and into London and Kent including in Southend, Westcliff, Leigh, Basildon, Billericay, Benfleet, Brentwood, Canvey Island, Halstead, Grays, Harlow, Chelmsford, Colchester and Clacton.
Warrant: Cash found in a purse during a search of a property
Warrant: Drugs found during a search of a property
Just one element of our work
However, enforcement is just one element of the work of the Serious Violence Unit.
Preventing vulnerable people from becoming involved in drugs and the crimes associated with drugs is a force wide priority and it is one which we do not tackle alone.
We work closely with partners such as local authorities and the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit to ensure those people who may appear as perpetrators, but are in fact victims in their own right, are safeguarded and steered away from crime and drugs.
The Serious Violence Unit has a dedicated Gangs and County Lines Officer who works to ensure young people at risk of exploitation are identified and to ensure help and support is provided.
Our Op Raptor unit also has dedicated safeguarding officers embedded within our teams.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Neal Miller, of the Essex Police Serious Violence Unit, said:
“Although our work did intensify during the week, the role our Op Raptor teams perform is very much a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week one. “The work they put into finding County Lines, investigating them, establishing who is behind them and then building cases against those involved should not be underestimated. “But our teams are specialists in their fields. They are experts in case building, which means our suspects will not know that an overwhelming case is quietly being built against them so they can be put before the courts. “Whilst these results clearly show the work we are carrying out is working, we are under no illusions that some groups of people do think they are above the law and they do think they can sell their product in Essex. But our message has been consistently clear; drugs and drug dealers are not welcome in our county. “The people who do this cause significant harm to our communities and we make no apology for pursuing them relentlessly.”
T/DCI Neal Miller added:
“Although the public might be more used to seeing the enforcement side of our work, there is a lot more to the Serious Violence Unit than that. “Our prevention officers are working hard every day to ensure those who are at risk of being exploited are given the support and help which is needed.”