Two people have been arrested and drugs recovered in morning raids in Oswestry as police in Shropshire continue to tackle so called county lines.
On Wednesday, a dedicated team set up to tackle local organised crime in the county carried out warrants at addresses in Swan Lane and Castle Street.
At Swan Lane a 37-year-old woman was arrested in connection with possession of Class A drugs while at Castle Street a teenager from Merseyside was also arrested for possession of Class A drugs, a phone and cash were also seized.
The teenager was also wanted for an offence in Merseyside.
Two adults were found in possession of cannabis and will now be dealt with by police.
Officers from Star Housing joined police on the raids to take eviction action where appropriate.
Last year a dedicated team was set up to tackle local organised crime in the county as part of West Mercia Police’s commitment to protect people from harm.
So far, the team has arrested more than 200 people. Class A drugs with a street value of almost £30,000, a cannabis factory worth £100,000 and almost £35,000 of cash have also been seized by the team.
County lines sees city drug dealers exploit young or vulnerable people to sell drugs in rural towns across the country. Drug orders are placed by a dedicated mobile phone line.
Often the drug dealers adopt cuckooing – a form of crime that sees them take over the home of a vulnerable person for a short time in order to use it as a base for drug dealing.
Wednesday’s activity was the latest success for the team. Along with a significant number of arrests and drugs taken off the streets, more than 200 mobile phones have been seized and examined by police. Eleven firearms have been recovered by other police forces as a result of the team’s activity.
Due to its success so far the team will now continue to tackle drug dealing in the county with county lines its priority.
Detective Inspector Pete Brophy heads up the Shrewsbury based team.
He said: “Towns in Shropshire are no different to other rural towns across the country that have seen an increase in city drug dealers attempt to move their drug dealing into smaller county towns, known as county lines, and we want to send a strong message to them that they are not welcome in our county.
“The local organised crime team is dedicated to tackling local drug dealing in our communities and as evidenced by the significant number of arrests so far, the team is actively targeting those people suspected of being involved.
“Regular enforcement activity is being carried out with drugs warrants executed right across the county. We work closely with housing groups and the local authority and will not hesitate to take action to evict those involved in drugs and we will continue to use our powers to robustly pursue and disrupt those suspected of being responsible for this type of crime in our towns.”
In addition to disruption activity the team works closely with Safer Neighbourhood Teams in the county.
DI Brophy added: “The local Safer Neighbourhood Teams play a crucial role in our efforts to tackle drug dealing, they are out on patrol in our communities speaking to members of the public and local residents, it’s that information that allows us to take enforcement action.
“Information we receive from the community is really vital in tackling this issue, if any one suspects drug dealing in their neighbourhood please let us know. Even if it turns out they are wrong, if we know about it we can check it out.”
DI Brophy also wants to reassure those who have been exploited or victims of cuckooing that measures will be in place to safeguard them and they will be offered help and support.
He said: “We will work with those who have been exploited and taken advantage of to make sure they have the help and support they need to rebuild their lives and break free from drugs and I really would urge anyone who thinks they have been targeted to come forward and speak to us.”
Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said “Tackling serious organised crime is a priority for myself and West Mercia Police, as part of the plans to build safer, more secure communities. The public should be reassured by the work of the police in terms of prevention, enforcement and in protection for victims. It’s important we build on this success. As Commissioner I am committed to ensuring the police have the right resources and would encourage our communities to report any concerns to the public, with the confidence that action is being taken.”
To report concerns about drugs or drug dealing in your local area contact West Mercia Police on 101. If it is an emergency and a crime is taking place always ring 999.