Morning raids see police clamp down on Harrogate's County Lines drug gangs

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A series of dramatic early-morning raids has seen police make five arrests in their war against County Lines drug dealers, who are exploiting and preying upon some of Harrogate’s most vulnerable people, including children.

A 70-strong team of police officers swooped in on six properties across Bradford today as part of Operation Jackal, where Class A drugs, weapons and mobile phones were seized to help unravel the damaging networks of dealing.

A suspect is led away in handcuffs by police officers in the early morning raids.

A suspect is led away in handcuffs by police officers in the early morning raids.

The arrested men are all from Bradford, aged 20, 37, 29, 26, and 22. They remain in police custody for questioning.

During searches of the properties, officers recovered suspected class A drugs including heroin and cocaine, a total of £3,000 in cash, a machete, 20 mobile phones, and suspected drugs paraphernalia including scales and deal bags.

The operation has identified three significant County Lines into Harrogate, all stemming from Bradford, which are causing “significant and erosive harm” to communities, and bringing with them issues such as child criminal exploitation, violence and anti-social behaviour.

Detective Inspector Fionna McEwan of North Yorkshire Police’s Organised Crime Unit, said today’s day of action marks a significant step in tackling County Lines, and hopes it relays a clear and firm message, that 'North Yorkshire is a hostile place for County Lines drug dealers, and they should not come here.'

The Operation Jackal raids under way this morning.

The Operation Jackal raids under way this morning.

Det Insp McEwan said: “I know that County Lines has been a significant and an unsettling concern for our communities within Harrogate, and we hope that this goes some way in showing them the determination we have to drive out this issue.

“Tackling drug trafficking is one of our highest priorities. County Lines activity and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation has a devastating impact.

“This type of crime not only brings misery to our local communities but also exploits the youngest and most vulnerable. Today’s operation demonstrates our commitment to working together locally, regionally and nationally to tackle it.”

Det Insp McEwan said the raids are the result of careful and extensive intelligence gathering, and joint working with a number of partners - locally, regionally and nationally, including the National County Lines Coordination Centre.

The teams included detectives, specialist search-trained police officers, police dog handlers, digital forensic investigators and financial investigators, and was the culmination of work under North Yorkshire Police’s Project Alliance and West Yorkshire Police’s Programme Precision to target those involved in County Lines activity.

Nikki Holland, the National Crime Agency’s director of Investigations, and national County Lines lead, said: “Tackling County Lines and the misery it causes is a national law enforcement priority. Today’s operation demonstrates the power of a joined-up response to a complex problem that we’re seeing in every area of the UK.

“The public can be reassured that collectively we are committed to tackling County Lines networks and safeguarding victims.

“We will continue to work collaboratively to dismantle these networks piece by piece in order to eradicate County Lines networks, and ultimately keep our communities safe from the exploitation and violence they inflict.”