Detectives have arrested four people in raids on a County Lines operation exploiting vulnerable children to sell drugs from London to Lincolnshire.
After months of planning by the Metropolitan Police, the British Transport Police and Essex Police, officers carried out a warrant on the drug supply gang on Wednesday, seizing a cache of drugs, weapons, stolen vehicles and cash.
The Met’s East Area Command Drug Focus Desk, heading the raids, said they were targeting the heads of the County Lines operation rather than the children and vulnerable adults exploited by dealers to carry out crimes.
The operation included a raid at a commercial container yard in Purfleet, Essex, where more than 200 containers were cut open and searched by officers resulting in the recovery of three stolen ‘off-road’ vehicles and a number of illegal substances, cash and firearms.
A man was arrested at the container yard on suspicion of possession of a firearm.
Three more arrests were made for offences including possession of Class A drugs, possession of Class B drugs and possession of a firearm in two addresses in Havering, east London.
The Met said a quantity of cash was seized suspected of being proceeds of crime.
Searches were expected to continue throughout the day.
Det Sgt Owen Morgan of the Met’s East Area Command Drug Focus Desk said: “The sale of drugs can be devastating to the quality of life for communities, not least to the families of vulnerable youngsters who are recruited by criminals to supply the product face to face with users, often in other parts of the country without their family’s knowledge.
“To the general public, county lines if often seen as nothing more than drug dealing, but in reality it is so much more. It causes harm to generations of young people and their families and has a negative impact on the quality of life for those living alongside it.
“Initially, the recruits are tempted into crime by the promise of cash rewards and they often believe that their involvement with a successful drug supplier will increase their own social status. They couldn’t be more wrong. Once involved, they are often threatened with violence and can find themselves unable to escape the network without help.
“We will continue to work with our policing colleagues both regionally and nationally in order to disrupt and dismantle organised criminal networks.”
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