Police chiefs in Chesterfield are continuing to smash violent drug gangs who are travelling into the town and targeting vulnerable people – and are encouraging the public to help them increase the pressure even more.
Officers have made almost 180 arrests, seized £75,000 in cash and more than £45,000 worth of crack cocaine and heroin, as well as six guns, 40 knives and machetes and other weapons, all related to the drug network known as ‘county lines’.
The police plea comes after one gang member from Nottingham, who was arrested on his way to Chesterfield, was locked up for seven-and-a-half years after he was found in possession of a gun and drugs worth more than £8,500 in his car.
Detective Inspector John Roddis said: “Members of the public can help. The best advice is to trust your instinct.
“If someone shows signs of mistreatment, or a child seems to be travelling long distances, or is unfamiliar with the locality, you can report suspicions to police on 101.
“If someone is not involved in county lines dealing they may be being exploited in other ways, so it is always worth speaking out.”
County lines involves gangs, with some members as young as 15, travelling into smaller towns from bigger cities to sell drugs to vulnerable users before eventually taking over their home to use as a base to deal from. If they do not comply, violence is threatened and often used.
The fight against the gangs requires a multi-agency approach, and police have provided professionals in Derbyshire with a list of top signs to look out for.
And although the threat of county lines has decreased in Chesterfield compared to this time last year, police say they are not getting complacent.
Det Insp Roddis said: “An effective response to county lines demands real collaboration across law enforcement, the wider public sector, the private sector, charities and with the support of the public too.
“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. Even though the results we have had in Chesterfield are positive, I can’t say to the public that this will just go away because it’s too lucrative.”
The bosses of the gangs are rarely caught because they use ‘runners’ to deliver the drugs – but many of these have been arrested by police in Chesterfield.
These arrests forced Pasquale Iacovitti, 23, of Colwick, Nottingham, to make an attempt to deliver a stash himself to Chesterfield, while armed with a gun.
“This highlights the ongoing threat that we face from county lines members,” Det Insp Roddis added.