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West Midlands’ Forces working together to disrupt the dealers

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A police operation to disrupt drug supply lines across the West Midlands region has resulted in more than 50 arrests and the seizure of cocaine, heroin, stolen cars, and weapons including Samurai swords.

Operation Yarrow was launched to disrupt the supply line of class-A drugs – known as ‘County Lines’ - across the region, with properties targeted and arrests made in Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon, Stafford and Burton.

This type of criminal activity involves groups operating from large urban areas to smaller towns and using force or coercion on vulnerable members of the community to take over their properties and to distribute drugs.

Officers from the British Transport Police,West Midlands Police, Staffordshire Police, West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police, and Central Motorways Policing Group (CMPG) worked together, sharing intelligence and coordinating the two-week long operation which was led by the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU).

Officers executed 14 warrants at properties across the region, which led to 54 arrests to date and the seizure of class A and B drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis. Cash and weapons were also seized including knives and Samurai swords.

Motorway patrols acted on intelligence to track down and stop cars involved in the distribution and make arrests on the M6.

Superintendent Scott Jones, of the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), led the operation.
“This operation was all about working together across the region for maximum effect to disrupt the dealers and to protect the vulnerable in our communities,” he said.

“Adult drug users, vulnerable women and younger members of the community are exploited for their properties, which is sometimes referred to as cuckooing, or to store or deal class-A drugs. They are also used for the transportation of the drugs across the country. We won’t tolerate this activity in our communities and will do everything we can to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people.”

Supt Jones said that as well as making arrests the operation had ensured support and advice was in place for drug-users or any identified vulnerable victims.

Detective Chief Inspector, Gareth Davies, of British Transport Police, said “Where BTP has intelligence that the rail network is being used to support any kind of criminal activity, we work in partnership with other forces and agencies to prevent and disrupt it.”

“We believe that these partnerships are paramount to tackling any exploitation of vulnerable people and so are very pleased with the outcome of this operation. We look forward to bringing any offenders to justice.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Javid Oomer, of Staffordshire Police, said: “Working with our colleagues across the region we will act fast and decisively to take drugs off our streets to keep our communities safe from harm and to protect the vulnerable. If you suspect relatives or friends are being targeted please call us.”

“We’re sending out a clear message to those who want to prey on the vulnerable: we will find you and bring you before the courts."

Wolverhampton Neighbourhood Police Inspector Steve Perry led the Black Country arm of the operation. He said: “Our efforts are aimed not only on getting the leaders of these networks but also to identify and safeguard vulnerable people, often children, who are being used to transfer drugs.

“We made some notable arrests during the operation and had traffic units targeting arterial routes out of Wolverhampton that could be used to transport drugs to outlying towns and villages.”

Chief Inspector Faz Chishty from Warwickshire Police said: “Drugs have a huge impact on our communities and we are committed to doing everything possible to disrupt the supply.

“Working with other forces across the region has sent a strong message to drug dealers that we are looking for you and we will do everything in our power to bring you to justice.

“Operation like this are made possible thanks to information provided by members of the public. They are eyes and ears in the community and the information they provide helps us to build a picture of the problems faced. If anyone has any concerns about illegal activity in their area I would urge them to contact us.”

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