Members of ‘county lines’ drug supply gangs across the region have been experiencing a rude awakening as police forces target networks preying on vulnerable people.

Durham Constabulary and Cleveland Police spent months collecting information and evidence before executing a number of warrants on suspects and seizing quantities of drugs and cash.

Addresses across Darlington and the surrounding area were targeted by Durham Constabulary while a series of raids were successfully completed around the Cleveland Police force area over the last ten days.

Darlington neighbourhood policing team, supported by members of the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU), arrested 19 people, confiscated approximately £31,000 in cash, seized tens of thousands of pounds worth of cocaine, and dozens of MDMA tablets.

Read more: What are county lines? The drug networks exploiting vulnerable people across the North East

They also safeguarded eight vulnerable people, including five children aged between three and 12.

Steroids and drug dealing paraphernalia were also recovered, as well as several suspected stolen e-bikes, weapons, two cars, and a number of pieces of high value jewellery and watches suspected of being purchased using money from drug dealing.

The Northern Echo: Some of the drugs seized by police in DarlingtonSome of the drugs seized by police in Darlington (Image: The Northern Echo)

Inspector Dean Haythornthwaite, from Darlington Neighbourhood Police Team, said: “The operation was our response to illicit drug trade in Darlington to tackle those who supply drugs in our communities and exploit vulnerable people.

“We were looking at people who are happy to exploit other people, they might want to use someone else’s home to store or prepare their drugs.

“If somebody is being targeted due to their own addiction, we do consider that as targeting their vulnerability for the dealer’s own benefit.”

The Northern Echo: Inspector Dean Haythornthwaite, from Darlington Neighbourhood Police TeamInspector Dean Haythornthwaite, from Darlington Neighbourhood Police Team (Image: The Northern Echo)

Whilst in the neighbouring Cleveland force area, 27 targets were successfully arrested and three others were also detained following a series of early morning raids.

Suspected drugs and mobile phones that were seized during the operation has now been sent away for analysis.

Detective Superintendent John Bent, the force’s head of crime, said: “There was a lot of planning and preparation around the operation that has been so significant for this job because it hasn’t just been the case of identifying suspects and putting doors in, it has been months of covert and overt operations.”

The Northern Echo: Detective Superintendent John BentDetective Superintendent John Bent (Image: The Northern Echo)

And down in North Yorkshire, officers arrested 27 people on suspicion of drugs offences ranging from the possession of controlled substances through to being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs. Two bladed weapons were recovered as well as over £5,000 in cash and £10,000 in what is suspected drugs.

The arrests took place in Harrogate, Ripon, York, Selby, Whitby, Scarborough and Filey.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Simpson, who supported the coordinated the week of activity in North Yorkshire Police, said: “Although this is a fantastic set of results from the last seven days, it’s important to stress that this is very much business as usual for North Yorkshire Police.

“Our teams are out and about conducting warrants and intercepting the supply of drugs week in week out.”

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