Dealers who 'go county' are based in large cities but travel to small towns and rural areas, often by train, to secure new markets for illegal substances. Teenage couriers are often recruited for these deliveries.
They have become notorious for 'cuckooing' - forcefully occupying the homes of vulnerable people, often addicts, during their temporary stays.
During the crackdown, arrests were made in York, Scarborough, Harrogate and Skipton - areas that have been targeted by networks based in Leeds, Bradford, Manchester and further afield in the past. Safeguarding visits were also made to 38 vulnerable people who had become victims of County Lines dealing.
North Yorkshire Police worked with the National Crime Agency and British Transport Police during a week of co-ordinated action.
Detective Chief Inspector Lorraine Crossman-Smith said: “This week’s action gives a glimpse of the work that goes on the target County Lines drug dealing all year round.
“In addition to enforcement activity, a major focus for North Yorkshire Police is protecting vulnerable people who are drawn into the world of drug dealing. Whether that is young people who are forced to sell drugs on behalf gangs, or those who are forced to let drug dealers use their homes as a base for selling drugs in a form of exploitation known as “cuckooing”.
“It requires support from a number of agencies including local authorities, community safety partnerships, housing providers, charities, health workers and drug rehabilitation services. My thanks go to all the agencies who supported the week and for their ongoing efforts throughout the year.”
Officers in York executed a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act on October 12. A search of the property revealed approximately £1,000 in cash, mobile phones, foreign currency, scales and two bags of white powder. A 29-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply. They were both released under investigation and enquires are continuing.
On October 11, a warrant was carried out under the Misuse of Drugs Act at a property in Acomb. A man in his 40s was arrested but later released without charge and given a place on a diversion scheme after officers recovered a small amount of heroin and a butterfly knife.
Offices on patrol in Scarborough town centre on October 11 spotted a suspected drug deal taking place in the street. They stopped and searched the suspect, a 26-year-old man from Leeds, and recovered £4,000 in cash along with quantities of heroin and cocaine. He was later charged with possessing class A drugs with intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of class A drugs. He was remanded in custody to appear at court on October 13.
Elsewhere in the town, officers intercepted a vehicle on New Queen Street that they believed was connected to the supply of drugs. The driver failed a road-side drug test, testing positive for the presence of cocaine, and was arrested on suspicion of drug driving. He has been released pending the results of further tests.
An 18-year-old man riding an illegal motorised scooter was stopped by officers who recovered 15 packages of cannabis after searching him due to the tell-tale smell of cannabis. He was arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis with intent to supply and has been released while under investigation to allow further enquiries to be carried out.
In a separate incident on the same day in Harrogate, two women in their 30s were arrested at a property in the Starbeck area on suspicion of possessing heroin with intent to supply. They have been released while under investigation to allow for further enquiries to be carried out.
Officers arrested a 16-year-old boy and 18-year-old man on Jennyfield Drive after their suspicions were raised while on proactive patrols when the pair ran off on seeing the officers. The pair were stopped and searched and officers recovered an amount of ketamine, cannabis, £300 cash, and equipment suspected of being used for drug supply. The two were both arrested on suspicion of possessing ketamine with intent to supply and possessing cannabis with intent to supply. They have been released while under investigation.
In Skipton officers arrested a 17-year-old boy after cannabis and drugs paraphernalia including small plastic bags and scales were recovered from his home. He has been released while under investigation.
In a separate investigation in the Craven area, a 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of supplying ecstasy. He has been released while under investigation, and safeguarding measures have also been put in place alongside the criminal investigation.