Over the last few weeks officers from Northumbria Police have been teaming up with other police forces and partner agencies to tackle County Lines.
The activity comes after months of intelligence gathering and investigative work and saw officers from Merseyside and Police Scotland as well as partner agencies such as North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) come together to tackle the emerging crime-trend.
Since the activity began on January 22, officers have arrested a total of 24 people, including another three people interviewed under caution this week.
County Lines is where criminal networks expand their operations from urban areas to more rural locations and smaller towns.
Drug dealers will typically use a single phone line to facilitate the supply of Class A drugs, often resorting to violence and intimidation to protect the line.
Often County Lines will involve the exploitation of vulnerable people, including children and those with mental health or addiction problems, at all points of the drug supply routes.
Northumbria Police’s Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Bensley, one of the leading officers on the investigation, said: “We’ve said time and time again that we won’t stand for any form of County Lines activity in our force area – and we mean it.
“Our robust stance against this type of criminal activity won’t end. We will keep hitting back at those suspected of being involved and we will keep working alongside partners to safeguard those who have fallen victim to these criminal networks and put those suspected of operating them behind bars.”
Detective Inspector Kirsten Dent, the regional County Lines coordinator at NERSOU, said: “This type of co-ordinated policing approach is only possible thanks to the continued support of the County Lines Coordination Centre as part of a national surge to support the government’s priority to stamp out County Lines.
“We will continue to work with partners and pursue suspects to ensure our communities remain a safe place to live and work for all.”