City drug peddlers targeting rural areas

BIG city drug dealers are leaving their traditional selling grounds to peddle their evil wares on the streets of East Anglia, it has been revealed.Gangs from London, Liverpool, Nottingham and Manchester have begun to branch out, and are increasingly targeting rural areas as lucrative drugs markets.

BIG city drug dealers are leaving their traditional selling grounds to peddle their evil wares on the streets of East Anglia, it has been revealed.

Gangs from London, Liverpool, Nottingham and Manchester have begun to branch out, and are increasingly targeting rural areas as lucrative drugs markets.

And it is feared that with them may come gun crime and violence – but the region's police forces are determined not to let that happen.

Carey Godfrey, Suffolk Drugs Action Team co-ordinator, told the EADT that heroin and crack cocaine are the primary drugs seeping into the area.


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"Our main concern over the last couple of years is that drug dealers from the cities – mainly London – have targeted rural areas, especially Ipswich," he said.

"It does appear that dealers in other areas are now looking at rural areas as a market.

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"The Government has put a lot of money into high crime areas like cities and the dealers are looking for other areas – Suffolk is one of those areas.

"With drugs come violence and drugs crime. We do see some violence in relation to dealers taking over markets but I have yet to hear of any gun crime – although that is a worry."

But Mr Godfrey stressed that police are aware of the problem, and the high-profile raids and arrests of those in the drug chain are sending out a clear message.

"What we are trying to do is reduce the drug market," he said. "You will never get rid of it but we are trying to disrupt it.

"It's giving a message to dealers in other areas not to come to Suffolk and deal in drugs. I think they thought it would be easier for them here but the message is going out that it's not – and the police are driving that home."

Across the border in Norfolk the county's police force is also battling hard with the problem, which centres around Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Norwich, and mostly involves gangs from Liverpool.

Detective Chief Inspector Barry Lister, head of Norfolk Constabulary's drugs and serious crime squad, said the growing menace first came to the fore last year.

"We started to get intelligence about Liverpool drugs groups that were operating in Norfolk, primarily in Great Yarmouth, but also in Lowestoft," he added.

"They were selling heroin and cocaine. We also became aware of a connection between dealers in Lowestoft and in Norwich.

"The Liverpool drug dealers who were supplying the street markets in Norwich were the same that were supplying the markets in Lowestoft."

DCI Lister added: "They pack the drugs up in Liverpool and bring them down ready for sale on the streets - it does very well.

"We know of examples of people who have been bullied and beaten - and that's just people laying down the law, collecting and enforcing drugs debts."

But DCI Lister stressed that his officers are up to the challenge in front of them, and offered reassurance to anyone who may be worried of the drugs danger.

"Since last year we've arrested over 50 drug dealers, all with Liverpool connections - it's been a sustained campaign against these groups," he said.

And a spokesman for Suffolk Police also stressed that the force would crack down hard on anyone involved in the drugs business.

He said: "We're committed to working with partner agencies and neighbouring forces to tackle drugs and we will continue to target those who deal drugs in our communities.

"The targeting of offenders sends a clear message to drug dealers that their actions will not be tolerated in Suffolk.

"The public can also play their part. There is a crackdown hotline that they can call with any information on 0800 253253."

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