County lines: Zombie knives seized, £1.3m in cash found and 1,500 arrests made in past week

In the last week, thousands of people have been arrested by police in England and Wales on suspicion of drug trafficking.

In addition to the 1,468 arrests, weapons including zombie knives and samurai swords were seized, and £1.3m in cash was found by police between 11 October and 17 October

Police in England and Wales made the arrested as part of operations to track down people involved in organised drug crime, who use county lines to run drugs.

County lines are run by “line holders” – with young children and vulnerable adults often groomed, coerced and threatened into being used as runners to deliver drugs.

Dealers use mobile phones to help transfer Class A substances from large cities into towns and rural areas.

The practice often comes with violence and during the week-long operation, 289 weapons – including 49 firearms and 120 knives – were seized.

The weapons included 12 zombie knives, 22 machetes, eight samurai swords and four crossbows.

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Aside from the arrests, 2,664 vulnerable people, mainly children, were engaged in safeguarding by police.

A total of £1.25m in cash and £2m worth of Class A drugs were also seized – including almost 30kg (66lbs) of heroin and 27kg (59.5lbs) of cocaine.

Graham McNulty, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said detectives are making “significant inroads into dismantling violent county lines”.

“The figures speak for themselves – we’re stopping abhorrent criminals abusing young people and lining their own pockets in the process,” he said.

The NPCC said the number of county lines operating in England and Wales has declined from 2,000 in 2018 to around 600 active lines currently.

Police can now bring victimless prosecutions for modern slavery offences, which ensure children and vulnerable adults are spared the ordeal of having to face their exploiters in court.

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