A total of ten people have been charged after a cross-border operation between Lancashire Constabulary and West Yorkshire Police in a crackdown on an organised crime group supplying drugs in Blackpool and exploiting children.
Officers from the two forces carried out a series of dawn raids this week in the Huddersfield and Leeds areas of West Yorkshire.
A total of eleven people were arrested and ten of them have now been charged.
Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Smith, of Blackpool Police, said: “We will continue to tackle the issue of the supply of class A drugs making their way on to the streets of our towns and to put those we believe are involved before the courts. “I am grateful for the assistance of our colleagues in West Yorkshire with whom we continue to work closely.
“We along with our partners, local authorities, health and social services continue to tackle county lines criminal activity so that we can keep our communities safe. “My message is clear to these gangs; you are not welcome in Blackpool or anywhere in Lancashire and if you continue to move and deal drugs here, we will find you. “The criminal exploitation of teenagers and vulnerable adults has received considerable media attention over the past year with particular focus on the risks of county lines activity. “Organised crime groups use children and adults to transport and sell Class A drugs, primarily from urban areas into market or coastal towns or rural areas to establish new drug markets or take over existing ones. “County lines involves human trafficking and exploitation, alongside drug supply and violent crime and is a highly lucrative business with those running the lines earning thousands of pounds per day. Those adults running the gangs are often removed from front line activity and exploit youths who are at high risk transporting and selling drugs often many miles from home. There are high levels of violence and intimidation linked to this activity which is why resources are being directed towards these groups. “We need the public to continue to work with us to help us tackle this county lines criminality by informing us of any suspicious activity.”
Detective Chief Inspector Fiona Gaffney of Kirklees CID (West Yorkshire), said:
“This operation should send out a clear message that criminals will not be tolerated in Kirklees or elsewhere. We worked closely with our colleagues in Lancashire Police and other partners in the lead up to this and the three day arrest phase. “Crime knows no boundaries – county lines crime in particular cuts across different crime types and different areas – it is vital, therefore, that the policing approach is joined up. “A lot of work went into this operation culminating in the arrest of a number of people on suspicion of serious offences.
“Intelligence coming from members of the public can be vital in operations like this and I would appeal to anyone who has information about illegal activity in their area to come forward.
“The operation was part of West Yorkshire Police’s Programme Precision – a force-wide crackdown involving partners and the public to tackle serious and organised crime.”