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14-year-old among dozens arrested in police blitz against cocaine and heroin gang

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·3-min read
A knife recovered by a police officer, and cash seized from the police operation. (West Midlands Police)
A knife recovered by a police officer, and cash seized from the police operation. (West Midlands Police)

A 14-year-old is among dozens of people who have been arrested as part of a "week-long blitz" against suspected drug dealers as police clamp down on county lines networks.

A total of 74 people were arrested, thousands of pounds worth of cocaine and heroin were seized and weapons including firearms and combat knives were recovered, West Midlands Police said.

The campaign, which lasted between 1 and 7 February, targeted cross-county border cocaine and heroin supply.

Watch: Drug crimes rose by a third during lockdown in England and Wales

Among those detained were two teenagers, who were arrested by plain clothes officers on Thursday morning near Wolverhampton railway station.

The operation, aimed at disrupting a county line believed to run from Wolverhampton to Hereford and Kidderminster, saw a 14-year-old boy from Bilston charged with possessing a knife. He is due to appear in court on 17 February.

Police arrested a father and son from a house where officers say they found bags of drugs. (West Midlands Police)
Police arrested a father and son from a house where officers say they found bags of drugs. (West Midlands Police)
Drugs and money were seized by police. (West Midlands Police)
Drugs and money were seized by police. (West Midlands Police)

West Midlands Police said it used automatic number plate recognition to search for people moving drugs by road and worked with the British Transport Police to identify any runners using trains.

Superintendent Rich Agar said: “There has been no let-up in our determination to tackle county lines offenders during COVID-19.

“Any offenders who thought we’d taken our foot off the gas got a shock last week: we arrested 74 people and in the wider West Midlands region there were 133 arrests.

“We also safeguarded 22 vulnerable people and visited 39 potential ‘cuckoo’ addresses – homes that could be targeted by dealers to use as drugs dens."

Among the items police seized was £160,000 from an apartment in Birmingham. The cash was stuffed in plastic carrier bags.

An officer holds up a knife seized from a teen who was suspected of running drugs on a train line. (West Midlands Police)
An officer holds up a knife seized from a teen who was suspected of running drugs on a train line. (West Midlands Police)

In another clampdown, a father and son were arrested on suspicion of drug dealing in Smethwick on 4 February.

Police said they found large bags of cannabis and "a bag of white powder", thought to be Class A drugs, and a 41-year-old man and 16-year-old boy were arrested and released under investigation.

Another youngster, a 17-year-old, was arrested after West Midlands and West Mercia Police found drugs worth £700 at an address in Evesham, as well as £600 in cash, on 1 February.

He admitted possessing drugs with intent to supply and is due to be sentenced on 1 March, police said.

The deputy police and crime commissioner Waheed Saleem said: “Exploiters use young or vulnerable people to distribute drugs through county lines activity. It’s a dangerous web to get caught up in and is destructive at every level – threatening the safety and damaging the health and prospects of the young people involved, their families, and their communities."

West Midlands Police estimates there are about 100 county lines running out of Birmingham. They go to places as far away as Cornwall and Scotland.

Watch: How long does it take to pay off a student loan?