A KNIFE, cash and suspected class A drugs were seized during a major police operation targeting county lines drug dealing.

Nine people were arrested during the four days of action by North Yorkshire Police to disrupt drug dealing across regional borders.

Officers also made welfare visits to 76 vulnerable people at risk of exploitation by dealers.

In addition to the nine arrests, officers recovered heroin and cocaine with an estimated street value of £2,600, cannabis and amphetamines, £500 cash suspected as being the proceeds of crime, they seized eight mobile phones, one large hunting knife and identified a new county line impacting on Harrogate.

During one visit, officers arrested four teenage boys from Leeds, one aged 16 and three aged 17, who were believed to be staying with a vulnerable person in Harrogate in a practice known as “cuckooing”.

This is where drug dealers or ‘runners’ who are often exploited people themselves, travel out-of-town and need somewhere to stay while they sell their drugs.

They often use the homes of vulnerable people to stay in.

In another incident, two men were stopped in a vehicle travelling from Leeds to Harrogate and arrested after officers found 26 bags of suspected MDMA and cocaine inside a pizza box.

Detective Sergeant Marcus Dawson of Harrogate-based Operation Expedite – North Yorkshire Police’s dedicated county lines team, said: “The safeguarding of vulnerable people continues to be a key focus of our work and these nationally funded days of action are very welcome, providing a boost to our existing proactive work, and allowing us to protect more people and disrupt more drug dealers.

“They also give us an opportunity the gather more intelligence about drug dealing, information that then goes on to inform more operational activity in the future.

“Our thanks go to the NCLCC (National County Lines Coordination Centre) and ROCU (Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit) for their support with our Harrogate operations.

"Members of the public can also help us protect vulnerable people by calling in information.

"No matter how small you believe it to be, your actions could help to keep a vulnerable person safe or get them help and support.”

Detective Inspector Mark Catney is the County Lines Crime Co-ordinator for the Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit.

He added: “It is important to work together with partners to tackle county lines crime.

“Criminals do not respect force borders so our approach must be to work together to achieve the maximum possible impact – by bringing those responsible for it to justice and by safeguarding vulnerable victims.

“I would particularly like to thank the Home Office and the National County Lines Coordination Centre – they provided funding to support this successful operation.”

The operations took place over separate days in February and March.

They were carried out with the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, with funding from the Home Office and the National County Lines Coordination Centre.