Operation to target county lines criminality in Warrington
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Criminals using the rail network to transfer drugs into Warrington were targeted by police during an operation into county lines activity and the exploitation of young and vulnerable people.
Plain clothed and uniformed officers from Warrington were deployed to Warrington Central, Warrington Bank Quay, bus interchanges and the town centre to disrupt drugs and cash coming in from Merseyside.
The operation – which took place on Tuesday 28 January – also involved officers looking out for vulnerable adults and children who may have been exploited by criminals to deliver the drugs or cash on their behalf.
A 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis and obstructing the police. He has since been charged, bailed and is due to appear at Warrington Magistrates Court on Wednesday 19 February.
A 13-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of being in possession of a knife. The 18-year-old man has since been charged, bailed and will appear at Warrington Magistrates Court on Friday 14 February. The boy has been released on conditional bail until 28 February.
Officers also conducted a number of stop searches.
Detective Inspector Chris Maddocks, of Warrington Local Policing Unit, said: “We know organised crime gangs from Merseyside target Warrington as part of their criminal enterprise to supply drugs in order to make a substantial profit.
“They travel into Warrington with drugs ready to be handed to local street dealers and sold to users in the town. The criminals will often have an address in Warrington used as a drugs hub and manipulate vulnerable adults, disabled people or children to do their dirty drugs work.
“This operation was an example of the work we do to disrupt this activity by being one step ahead of the criminals and preventing the drugs from coming into our community while also protecting those who are callously used by these gangs.”
As part of the operation, officers spoke to the public to educate them on how to spot if a child or vulnerable adult is being targeted or exploited by organised criminals as part of the county lines enterprise.
The operation was part of a Merseyside-led initiative called Project Medusa involving forces joining together to crackdown on organised crime groups who operate a cross border county lines network.
A total of 12 people were arrested on Tuesday 28 January following five warrants in Anfield, Huyton and the Dingle area.
Assistant Chief Constable Matt Burton added: “The operation between Cheshire and Merseyside highlights how powerful and hard-hitting the police can be when working jointly to target those involved in county lines criminality.
“We know criminals often use the rail network to travel into Cheshire from Merseyside in order to deal drugs in our communities and make a profit. This operation was our opportunity to show we are one step ahead and ready to prevent them from doing so.
“We must not forget that these organised crime gangs can prey on vulnerable adults and exploit, coerce and manipulate children to deliver and deal drugs on their behalf. We will not allow that to happen in our communities and we will continue to work hard to protect vulnerable adults and children and ensure Cheshire is a safe place.”
You can visit our website to find out how to spot the signs of county lines drug dealing https://www.cheshire.police.uk/police-forces/cheshire-constabulary/areas/cheshire/campaigns/campaigns/2019/impact/.
If you have information regarding drug dealing in your community please call Cheshire Police on 101, give details online via https://www.cheshire.police.uk or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.