More than 1,400 people were arrested in county lines in a week as part of a nationwide crackdown on drug gangs, police said.
Drugs hidden in dog bones were found in a search during the operation, which uncovered around £4.25million in Class A and B substances across England and Wales.
Officials targeted drug traffickers, who often recruit children and vulnerable adults, to run as runners across the country as part of a statewide week to step up county lines.
Twelve suspected organizers were caught simultaneously in one area and charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, police said.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said 671 people were found and protected by authorities during searches involving all the country’s armed forces.
A total of 1,444 people were arrested as a result of the operation, which took place March 7-13, the NPCC said.
In Northumbria, three men have been arrested at an address where drugs, cash and mobile phones hidden in dog bones were found.
Crime and Police Secretary Kit Malthouse said: “Drug trafficking within the county borders is one of the most destructive forms of crime in the UK and dismantling this monstrous model of supply is a Government priority.
“We are stepping up our efforts. Initiatives like our County Lines Program are breaking up gangs in the areas hardest hit by this crime, but every single successful police operation makes our streets safer.”
The Children’s Society charity worked with forces throughout the week to run its Look Closer awareness programme, which aims to help people spot the signs of child exploitation.
James Simmonds-Read, national manager of the initiative, said: “We welcome the arrests of criminals who cynically exploit children, but just as important is the important work police are doing to ensure these young people are identified and crucial help is offered.”
He urged commuters, transportation and bank workers, and people using online platforms or games to report their concerns about potential victims.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty described drug trafficking in the county lines as a “heinous” crime and thanked officers for working on the operation.
“County lines cause destruction in communities and are a heinous crime. We know that drug supply is inextricably linked to violence and inflicts suffering on those affected,” he said.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/kit-malthouse-england-wales-npcc-children-b2038700.html More than 1,400 arrests in one week in nationwide raids on county lines