county lines - PC Ian Harrison, left, and PCSO Stephen Marnick outside the house in Bower Street, Widnes, that has been closed for three months (1)

A Nantwich woman was among several people arrested by Cheshire Police during a week of action to tackle county lines drug dealing.

The 35-year-old woman was arrested by officers after a quantity of heroin was seized at an address in Alton Street in Crewe.

She was arrested along with two other people – a 47-year-old man from Crewe, a 36-year-old woman from Crewe – all on suspicion of possession with intent to supply the class A drug.

The arrests were part of Operation Expel which saw officers target county lines drug dealers and aim to protect vulnerable people from being exploited.

Detective Inspector Eleanor Atkinson, who oversaw the operation at Cheshire Constabulary, said: “County lines drug dealing involves organised crime groups based in major cities or urban areas extending their criminal enterprises into more rural locations.

“They often recruit and coerce children and vulnerable adults to sell illegal drugs for them.

“The actions of these organised crime groups and the drugs that they supply causes untold damage to the direct victims, as well as to the wider communities who suffer from the resulting crime.

“The week of action, which saw numerous warrants executed, class A drugs seized, several people arrested and vulnerable children and adults safeguarded, was part of our ongoing commitment to tackling county lines drug dealing in Cheshire head on, utilising all the resources at our disposal.

“We are pleased with how the week of action went.

“The warrants we executed, the illegal drugs we seized and the arrests we made will have significantly disrupted criminal activity.

“However, it wasn’t just about catching criminals and stepping up our efforts to bring them to justice via the courts.

“A big part of the week of action was about identifying and safeguarding vulnerable children and adults who are controlled, coerced and manipulated into dealing drugs on behalf of others, and subsequently offering them the support that they require to get away from criminal activity and lead a better life.

“There was also a focus on educating people, particularly children and vulnerable adults, about the dangers of county lines drug dealers so that they have the information they need to avoid becoming victims.

“We worked with partner agencies for much of this work.

“People who have previously had their homes taken over by drug dealers through the use of violence and threats, in an activity known as cuckooing, were visited for welfare checks, as were other vulnerable addresses.

“Leaflets and letters about county lines drug dealing were distributed.

“We also made arrangements for schools and taxi companies to educate their pupils and drivers respectively about the dangers and signs of county lines drug dealing, and gave them suitable literature on the subject.”

David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, added: “I know that officers work tirelessly in their fight against county lines drug dealers and those who exploit and manipulate vulnerable adults and children to aid their criminal enterprises.

“The week of action is a great example of how the police and partner agencies can work together to tackle serious and organised crime, which has no place in our communities, and identify and safeguard vulnerable children and adults to stop them from being exploited.”

DI Atkinson added: “Our aim is to drive county lines drug dealing out of Cheshire and we will continue to work with partner agencies to do everything in our power to protect residents from organised crime groups.

“However, we also need support from the public.

“We need residents to be our eyes and ears by looking out for, and reporting, suspicious behaviour and signs of children and vulnerable adults being taken advantage of by organised criminals.

“If you have any information that may help us to build more intelligence regarding county lines drug dealing, bring offenders to justice and keep vulnerable members of our communities safe then please get in touch.”

For details of how to spot the signs of county lines drug dealing and cuckooing, visit https://www.cheshire.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/cl/county-lines.

Any information regarding drug dealing in your community, no matter how small, should be reported to Cheshire Constabulary on 101, or via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report.

Alternatively, you can contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

From left, PCSOs Tony Icke and Joanne Pendrey, Rage Fitness CEO Craig Brown, Blacon Adventure Playground Manager Sandra Hewitt and Youth Leader Lisa Pritchard during the playground visit (1)

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