Over the past six weeks officers from the Organised Crime Group team in Chesterfield have been running an operation targeting the supply of drugs into the town by County Lines gangs.
The gangs, which are based in the Sheffield area, traffic teenagers into the town to sell the drugs, and use the homes of vulnerable people in our communities as bases for their criminal activities.
Over the course of six weeks 41 warrants were executed and this has led to a total of 46 arrests.
Thirty-six people have been charged with various offences, including conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine and possession with intent to supply. Twenty-eight of those charged have been remanded to prison.
Large quantities of both heroin and crack cocaine, which were destined to be sold on the streets of our county, were seized by officers, and more than £500,000 worth of criminal property has been seized, including designer clothing, jewellery and even a £90k BMW.
There has also been significant safeguarding work completed by officers – with three victims being referred to specialist support services after being exploited by the gangs – and ten children safeguarded after being found in properties where drug dealing was taking place.
Detective Sergeant Simon Cartwright said: “The work over the last six weeks has struck a heavy blow on the criminal networks that have been controlling the supply of drugs into Chesterfield.
“These gangs do not see county borders; however, I am happy to report that neither do we as we have been working closely with our colleagues in South Yorkshire Police who have helped dismantle five lines that were running into our county.
“The work against these gangs is only part of the solution to the problem – and we are also working closely with partner agencies, including Chesterfield Borough Council, to give those vulnerable people in our community the support they need to break out of the cycle of addiction.
“While the last six weeks have seen very real successes, we are not complacent and will continue to detect, disrupt and bring to justice those who create such damage in our communities.”
The six weeks of work coincided with the national county lines intensification week (which ran from 7 March to 11 March) and saw criminal gangs across England targeted by officers.
It has been carried out with the help of funding from the National County Lines Coordination Centre.
Detective Inspector Andrew Shields, from South Yorkshire Police’s Operation Fortify team, said: “Criminal gangs behind County Line drug supply cause a significant amount of harm through the exploitation of vulnerable people, often using them to supply class A drugs. These groups also spread misery among the communities in which they operate, and this is why it is a priority for our force to target and disrupt those believed to be involved in County Lines criminality.
“The County Lines business model seeks to exploit drug addiction and demand in other parts of the Country and those behind this criminal enterprise under-estimate the power of collaboration when police forces come together to share information and resources.
“This six-week operation forms part of our ongoing collaboration with colleagues at Derbyshire police, and it has demonstrated the importance and effectiveness of collaboration when tackling issues like this – we really are stronger together.
“Our work to disrupt County Lines activity is far from over. We have dedicated teams that will continue to work every day to make South Yorkshire safer for everyone and this includes working with other Forces to disrupt County Lines drug supply.”
Councillor Jill Mannion-Brunt, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member of health and wellbeing, said: “Each day, officers are working hard to remove drug dealers from our communities and the council is doing everything it can to support them in their efforts.
“On numerous occasions over the past few weeks, officers have been able to prevent drugs being sold on our streets which is really positive news for our communities.
“We will continue to do all we can to support officers to tackle drug dealing in Chesterfield, whilst also making sure that vulnerable people get the support needed to break the cycle of abuse.
“If you think county lines drug dealing may be going on in your area, please report it as soon as possible. Even the slightest bit of information could help to protect vulnerable people and prevent drugs being sold in our communities.”