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Five force op delivers fresh blow to County Lines gangs

Another blow has been dealt against County Lines gangs by a multi-force operation.

More than 140 arrests have been made in just three days across the South East in a five-force operation against County Lines gangs.

Officers from officers from Hertfordshire, the Metropolitan Police, Surrey, Thames Valley and British Transport Police targeted offenders using road and rail links to move drugs, cash and weapons.

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) gave the Met support for its activity.

Operation Pandilla saw Met officers focus on hotspots in the North, East and West of the capital to disrupt the criminals.

Teams from the other forces used a number of tactics, including Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and targeted vehicle stops based on intelligence.

The results included 85 arrests by the Met for knife, weapons, and drugs offences, 40 drug seizures and 57 vehicles seized.

Hertfordshire’s tally included 37 vehicles seized, 16 weapons recovered and 48 drug seizures were made.

More than £14,500 in cash was also recovered.

Hertfordshire’s roads and motorway network, including the M25 and A10, have long been established as routes for drug gangs through to the East of England.

The arrests are just the latest big initiative following other major operations against County Lines gangs in England involving Dorset and Suffolk which resulted in dozens of arrests and jail sentences.

It’s further evidence that forces are hitting back against gangs that until now have exploited operational boundaries by moving across multiple areas.

Detective Chief Inspector Frankie Westoby, from Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: “This operation is a great example of the successes that partnership working can bring. We had some fantastic results over the course of the three days and I’d like to thank everyone involved.

“I hope this sends a message to those who travel to commit crime that we will utilise everything at our disposal and work with our policing colleagues to catch up with you."

The Met made it clear that more joint activity will follow against County Lines targets.

Chief Inspector Rob Ranstead, who led the operation for the Met, said: “Organised crime, including county lines drug supply and criminals committing burglaries and robberies, are key drivers of violence in our communities. And offenders often exploit and target the vulnerable.

He added: "Our determination remains strong and we will continue to work with our partners, and use every power and tactic available to serve and protect our communities.”

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