County Lines crackdown in Scotland leads to 20 arrests in a week as heroin, high purity cocaine, cannabis, a Taser and two machetes seized

A County Lines crackdown in Scotland last week resulted in 20 arrests as officers seized heroin, high purity cocaine, cannabis, a Taser and two machetes in raids across the country.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:01 am

County Lines is where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another, often by children or young adults or vulnerable people who are coerced into it by gangs. The ‘County Line’ is the mobile phone line used to take the order of drugs.

Criminals may also take over a vulnerable person’s house to conduct their drug operations - also known as ‘cuckooing’ - in a bid to evade detection.

Police Scotland’s Assistant Chief Constable, Pat Campbell, said: "County Lines gangs are not welcome in Scotland. They groom and exploit the most vulnerable people in our communities including children and young people. People are intimidated, coerced, threatened and forced into storing or selling drugs.”

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Police carrying out a raid in 2020 during Operation Venetic - the biggest ever UK operation into serious and organised crime involving Police Scotland, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and police forces across the country.

Police Scotland officers took part in a UK-wide week of intense activity - between May 17 and May 23 - targeting County Lines drug dealers. Officers engaged with 29 vulnerable people and 64 addresses, believed to be used for cuckooing, were visited.

A total of 20 people were arrested and controlled drugs - heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and cannabis with an estimated street value of £40,000 - were seized.

More than £20,000 in cash was also recovered.

Offensive weapons - including a Taser, two machetes and two large knives – and a number of mobile phones, a laptop and almost £500 of counterfeit cash were also seized.

County Lines gangs are known to use the postal system to transport drugs and, during the week of activity, a number of post offices in the Highlands were visited by the police dog unit.

A package containing high-purity cocaine, with a street value of more than £25,000, was intercepted and a subsequent search of a property in Dingwall resulted in cannabis worth about £40,000 being recovered. A 32-year-old man was arrested and enquiries are ongoing.

ACC Campbell continued: "Our officers remain absolutely committed to working with our partners to reduce the exploitation of vulnerable people and safeguard individuals who may be at risk, and pursue offenders.

"Together we will provide support to those targeted by unscrupulous criminals, to reduce ongoing risk and enable recovery, and we will continue to make Scotland a hostile environment to those who seek to engage in criminal activity. The positive results during the day of action are an example of this work which will continue in support of the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy and the Drug Harm Reduction Strategy.

“As ever, I would urge anyone with concerns to report them to Police Scotland or alternatively to Crime stoppers anonymously.”

Police activity in the Highlands led to the seizure of £20,000 in cash and nearly £500 in counterfeit notes throughout the week. Officers also recovered crack cocaine, heroin and cocaine. The execution of several warrants also resulted in about two kilograms of cannabis being recovered.

Mobile devices, £2,500 worth of heroin and £1,800 of crack cocaine were also recovered from a property in Balloan Road in Inverness.

Police also raided a house in Stafford Street in Aberdeen and arrested two men, aged 36 and 45, over possession of heroin. A 42-year-old man was arrested for being in possession of crack cocaine in the city’s Granton Place and two other men were arrested for possessing cannabis.

A 27-year-old man was arrested in connection with heroin possession after officers stopped his car in Summerhill, Aberdeen.

In Edinburgh, police recovered a stolen hire vehicle believed to be used by County Lines dealers.

Police in Fife executed a number of drugs search warrants in the Methil and Kennoway areas and recovered crack cocaine with an estimated street value of £3,000, as well as more than £5,000 in cash and a Taser.

Two men - aged 20 and 22 - from the Birmingham area were charged and were due to appear at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on May 20.

Heroin with a street value of more than £600, cocaine worth nearly £1,500, and £1,000 worth of cannabis were recovered from a property in Scott Street in Perth. Officers also found two machetes, nearly £1,000 in cash, £470 in counterfeit bank notes and several mobile devices.

A 31-year-old man from Bradford was arrested in connection with cocaine possession and cash after a warrant was executed at a house in Strathmore Street, Perth. Officers also recovered cocaine and mobile devices from a flat in Stanley Mills.

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