‘County lines’ drugs crime is ‘biggest threat facing Suffolk’ - police commissioner after 16 arrests made

A 54-year-old man was arrested over a suspected arson attack un Lulworth Drive, Haverhill, on Januar

A 54-year-old man was arrested over a suspected arson attack un Lulworth Drive, Haverhill, on January 30 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

An operation targeting those suspected of supplying drugs in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds has seen 16 people arrested.

Detective Superintendent Steve Mattin Picture: SIMON PARKER

Detective Superintendent Steve Mattin Picture: SIMON PARKER

During the week of action teams of Suffolk police officers and staff have been working to target those suspected of involvement in the supply of drugs and associated criminality.

Ten of those arrested formed part of a regional operation on Tuesday, January 22, and Wednesday, January 23, by more than 200 officers from seven forces - Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk - supported and co-ordinated by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).

The six people arrested during the week of activity are:

•Two 27-year-old women arrested in Bury St Edmunds on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs. Both were released under investigation.

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•A 45-year-old man, a 22-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of supplying class A drugs and released under investigation.

•A 19-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis and released under investigation pending further enquiries.

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The activity was part of a bid to clamp down on county drugs lines operating out of London into towns across Suffolk.

County drugs lines is the term used to describe gangs, groups or drug networks that supply drugs from urban to suburban areas across the country, including market and coastal towns, using dedicated mobile phone lines or ‘deal lines’.

The Suffolk operation under ‘Velocity’ worked in tandem with the national week-long crackdown against county lines to tackle drug-related crime.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Mattin, who oversaw the Suffolk arrests, said: “We have arrested 16 people last week as a result of work that has been carried out to identify those believed to be involved in the supply of drugs.

“Many of those arrested have been remanded in custody pending further court hearings, while others will appear at court over the next few weeks.

“There are significant seizures of cash and drugs that cannot be quantified at this time and our enquiries to establish exact number continue.

“I would like to thank all those who have been involved in making a hostile environment for criminals to operate in.

“However, this is not going to be solved by police alone. We continue to work with partner agencies to safeguard young people and prevent addiction and reduce demand.

“Only by working together will we be able to tackle the root causes and the long-term effects of drug supply and crime on both individuals and communities.”

Suffolk police will continue with the co-ordinated enforcement activity across the three district areas and support the vulnerable and young people who are exploited and harmed.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “This is excellent work by the constabulary, well done to everyone involved.

“County lines is the biggest threat facing Suffolk at present without question. This problem is not going to be won by police activity and enforcement alone and I’ll continue to do everything I can, working with partner agencies across the county, to get rid of this blight in our society.

“These lines must be completely dismantled and the perpetrators put behind bars for a very long time. I hope these arrests send out an unequivocal message to those involved in county lines that if they ply their disgusting trade in Suffolk, we’re waiting for you and will make your lives absolute hell.”

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