Sussex Police have made three further arrests after raiding houses of known ‘County Lines’ drug dealers. The arrests come as part of an ongoing effort to crack down on drug dealing. The operation is tackling ‘County Lines’, a serious issue that effects counties all across the country. Simply put, criminal gangs set up a drug dealing operation in a place outside their operating area, often in small towns where drug abuse can infiltrate communities very quickly. The gangs involved often recruit children and young people to do the ‘running’ for them, meaning they are exploited and put into very vulnerable positions. Since the beginning of March there have been 32 arrests in relation to ‘county lines’ The most common drugs on ‘county lines’ are heroin and crack cocaine. The gangs/groups involved tend to use local properties, more often than not a residence of someone very vulnerable to use as their base. The practice is known as ‘cuckooing’ and is often due to debt or through force or coercion.
On Monday (23 April) detectives carried out warrants and successfully arrested a 24-year-old man in Park Crescent and a 17-year-old boy in Hawkhurst Road both on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, crack cocaine and heroin. The two men appeared at Brighton Magistrates Court on Tuesday. Adedoyin Balogun, of Park Crescent, and the 17 year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were both charged with being concerned in the supply of heroin and crack cocaine. Balogun was remanded in custody and the 17 year-old was released on court bail and will appear at Lewes Crown Court on 22 May. On Tuesday (24 April) an 18-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, again crack cocaine and heroin. Zak El Alami was charged with being concerned in the supply of heroin and crack cocaine and appeared in court yesterday afternoon.
Sussex Police are working alongside the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office to use a new law aimed at stopping phone lines being used by organised crime groups to distribute drugs. ‘County Lines’ groups establish a distinctive telephone number in the areas they settle in, which according to Sussex Police “becomes their brand.” The latest arrests have meant the closure of five phone lines being used by five alleged dealers across Brighton & Hove.
Detective Inspector Julie Wakeford from the Brighton and Hove Community Investigation Team said: “Many of the supply networks targeted through this operation originate from various boroughs within London. We had support from the Metropolitan police throughout this operation and will continue to work with them to disrupt these networks often linked to London gangs who are intent on supplying heroin in Brighton and Hove. The methods they use to operate their dealing networks exploit vulnerable people both adults and teenagers in order to maximise their profit from drug supply. The team works hard with our partners to reduce the harm caused by these dealing networks and to safeguard the vulnerable people exploited by them . We share a commitment to reduce the harm associated to heroin and crack cocaine supply in the city.”