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Kent county lines: drug network in Kent halved

Kent Police have nearly cut the number of active county line gangs in half.

According to officers, the number of drug gangs operating in the county has decreased from 82 in 2020 to a current total of  42 in March of this year.

County lines gangs are targeting children as young as 12 to sell drugs in Kent, according to police. Criminals are recruiting young people from various parts of the country, including London, to sell heroin and crack cocaine in the county.

According to Detective Superintendent Lopa McDermott of Kent Police’s County Line and Gangs Teams said: ” This is largely attributed to regular intensification weeks, offering a time of targeted action to tackle drugs networks.

The most recent campaign resulted in the recovery of 12 line phones, which has significantly set back the work of those who try to bring Class A drugs into the county.‘Kent Police takes drugs trafficking seriously, and intensification weeks provide a more focused opportunity to drive home the message that drug-related crime does not pay.‘I would like to thank all officers involved for their hard work and perseverance in identifying and tracking down suspects linked to significant volumes of these crimes. Their diligence and persistence contributed enormously to bringing these criminals before the courts.”

Copyright: Kent Police

Kent police force also revealed that children as young as 13 were taught how to hide drugs inside their bodies in order to avoid detection by police.

According to a survey of 1,500 boys aged 13 to 19, conducted by British Transport Police, 19% have been offered work by a drug dealer and 15% have seen drugs offered or sold on social media.

The data also reads, more than a quarter (27%) of boys aged 13 to 19 have seen drugs offered or sold at school or on social media.

BTP’s County Lines Taskforce frequently encounters young and vulnerable people on the railway who have been used by gangs to transport drugs between locations.

Since the Taskforce was formed in late 2019 with Home Office funding to combat county lines activity on the railway, it has made 2,250 arrests. 40% of those arrested were under the age of 19, but only one in five (20%) were criminalised.

According to PC Dan Cook of Kent Police’s County Lines and Gangs Teams, very young children have been involved in the illegal operations.

PC Cook said : “The youngest person we’ve found being exploited in county lines activity was a boy aged 13 – in that case the couple controlling him to courier drugs were jailed for over 12 years.”

Drug gangs operate from urban bases and use young and vulnerable people as couriers to reach customers in rural areas.

In so-called “business opportunities” dealers offer cash, mobile phones, vapes, and clothing.

Kent Police encourages anyone with information or concerns about drug dealing in their area to report it via the website, or to call 999 if a crime is being committed.