Police have arrested dozens of people in raids across Britain’s north aimed at disrupting the operations of county lines drug gangs.
The operation, codenamed Project Medusa, by five police forces saw 11 raids and 46 people arrested on suspicion of drug offences, Merseyside Police said in a statement.
Of those arrested, 36 people were from Merseyside areas, five were from Lancashire, one was from Cumbria and one other was picked up in Scotland.
Another three people were arrested by British Transport Police at train stations and on board trains.
46 people arrested and five vulnerable young people safeguarded after police officers from five forces joined together to target those running County Lines drugs supply networks from Merseyside into Lancashire, Cumbria and Scotland. Read more here 👉https://t.co/bBks12ElfT pic.twitter.com/QA0RiTX1ts
— Merseyside Police (@MerseyPolice) February 26, 2020
Police also said five “vulnerable young people” were being safeguarded following the raids.
Officers had recovered “significant” amounts of Class A drugs and cash, including £20,000 from one Liverpool address, as well as an imitation firearm and phones.
Assistant chief constable Ian Critchley said: “Those responsible for these county lines bring misery to our local communities through their drug dealing and they also target and coerce young and vulnerable people into doing their dirty work.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I’ve seen first hand the vital work the police are doing to disrupt county lines gangs and it’s great to see them continuing to deliver these impressive results.
“I will not tolerate these abhorrent gangs that exploit children and vulnerable people and we will do everything in our power to tackle this issue head on.”
Mr Critchley said at least 112 people had been arrested and 32 county lines shut down in Merseyside since November.
He added that the raids would hit “the criminals hard, but when it comes to the young and vulnerable people, who have been criminally exploited, we ensure that they are treated sensitively and with understanding.”