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GMP make 85 arrests and seize £70K worth of drugs during County Lines Intensification Week

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) continue to disrupt and dismantle drug lines across the city-region, as part of the national County Lines week of intensification last week (4-10 March 2024).

County lines refers to the movement of drugs from one location to another, normally involving the use of dedicated phone lines by the criminals and others involved.

Programme Challenger is a multi-agency approach to tackling organised crime in Greater Manchester, with police and partners dedicated to pursuing criminals and protecting victims. In the past 12 months, the team has closed down 150 county lines, while safeguarding 150 young and vulnerable people from criminal exploitation.

During the week of action, activity was mainly focused on two areas: pursue and protect. Pursue includes activity such as warrants and how officers are tracking down criminals, while protect looks at how to prevent victims and young people from being exploited by county lines drugs gangs.

Pursue

County Lines Intensification Week saw officers conduct a total of 49 warrants, resulting in 85 arrests across Greater Manchester, with 12 active drugs lines closed down.

More than £24,000 in cash and drugs with a street value of more than £70,000 were seized, including heroin, amphetamines, cocaine and cannabis. Mobile phones, weapons including BB guns, bats and knives were confiscated, and Rolex watches and high-value clothing were also recovered. The centre of Manchester team also executed six warrants that recovered four firearms.

A county line from Manchester to Huddersfield and Scotland was disrupted in the south of Manchester, resulting in 13 warrants being executed, nine people arrested with eight charged and five bailed at court with conditions. Drugs, cash, weapons and phones were recovered.

In partnership with Trading Standards, officers conducted premises visits to vape shops and seized hundreds of illegal vapes across Greater Manchester. The dedicated team tackling drugs gangs across Greater Manchester has dismantled more than 130 drugs lines in the last 12 months, and GMP said "the work does not relent".

Protect

Young children and vulnerable adults are often groomed to move and deal drugs in any locality. Grooming is often followed by extreme violence and coercive behaviour. Numerous safeguarding referrals were made for individuals that were encountered during the week of action.

In partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), each of the 10 district Complex Safeguarding Teams were given funding for a range activity across GM, such as youth engagement inputs and workshops, demonstrating how Challenger is helping to protect and prevent young people from being exploited by drugs gangs.

Youth inputs were held across the districts, while basketball player Kofi Josephs gave a speech to 50 children from schools in the Wigan area to steer them away from getting involved in drugs gangs.

Joint visits with social housing to vulnerable tenants who may be at risk of cuckooing or have been cuckooed in the past also took place, while neighbourhood officers targeted hotspot areas where cuckooing and drug dealing is known to take place. 

Detective Superintendent Joe Harrop of GMP’s Programme Challenger said: “We have had a very busy and successful County Lines Intensification Week, with various lines disrupted thanks to our warrants executed. Intelligence gathered from the community was paramount in us being able to conduct this activity which saw 49 warrants, resulting in 85 arrests and 12 drug lines closed down across Greater Manchester.

“Working with partners we were also able to deliver a comprehensive prevent programme, with young people across the area being engaged with. While the presence of organised crime remains in Greater Manchester, the Challenger partnership does not relent, and its message is as clear as ever: we’ll pursue those that exploit vulnerable people, and we’ll protect those vulnerable people being exploited.

“Drugs gangs that target and exploit kids are child abusers, and we are increasingly looking to prosecute offenders through the Modern Slavery Act.

“Young people being exploited by drugs gangs are not criminals, and we are here to work with partners to protect them and prevent further harm.

“We are continuing to develop and enhance the ways we gather intelligence to identify the offenders that need pursuing and the victims that need protecting.”

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