Months of crucial intelligence building came to fruition on Wednesday when Northumbria Police officers carried out a series of co-ordinated strikes throughout the Alnwick area.
Officers brandishing warrants descended on four addresses in the town, each linked to County Lines – the practice that sees ruthless dealers use dedicated mobile phone lines to prey on the vulnerable and sell highly addictive substances at low prices to keep addicts coming back for more.
A total of nine people were arrested on suspicion of drug supply and remain in police custody at this time.
Superintendent Sam Rennison said: “County lines criminals attempted to imbed themselves in the community of Alnwick and take advantage of some of the town’s most vulnerable – but our local neighbourhood officers refused to let them take hold.
“Our officers know their communities well and were swift to identify County Lines activity and worked hard to build crucial intelligence on suspects that would allow for us to issue warrants for the immediate arrest of nine suspects.”
Assistant Chief Constable David Felton said: “County Lines is a heartless operation ran by greedy criminals with no sense of remorse for the communities and lives they destroy.
“Yesterday nine suspects were arrested and a haul of drugs and cash seized.
“I am delighted with the results we have seen through this dedicated operation, and thanks to community intelligence and support, we’ve put a real dent in the pockets of organised criminals.
“Under the banner of Operation Sentinel, our dedicated initiative to tackling serious and organised crime, we will continue to work with our communities and partners to stop offenders and disrupt their illicit activity.
“We always encourage members of the public to report any suspicious activity they believe could be linked to drug supply to us. You are our eyes and ears and our biggest supporters. Please continue to work with us to keep our area safe and thriving.”
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “These are big results and go to show that Northumbria Police will not stand for drugs trafficking.
“Anyone who thinks we are an easy target up here is wrong. Drug crime isn’t just a problem in urban areas. Drug dealers often go out of their way to target the smaller, rural towns and prey on the vulnerable who live there.
“Well, as these results show Northumbria Police have been relentless in going after those behind the line, the dealers who draw the vulnerable into do their dirty work and cause harm and upset to the lives of others.
"Officers have assured me they will continue doing everything possible to fight this crime and rescue those being exploited in our rural towns.”
To report suspicious activity, use the Tell us Something page on Northumbria Police’s website.
Alternatively, you can report to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.