Hundreds arrested as police disrupt county lines drugs gangs

More than 200 people have been arrested as part of a cross-country operation targeting county lines drug supplies.

A total of 1,065 police officers from nine constabularies were involved in the three-day Operation Pandilla, which saw 230 arrests made for offences including attempted murder, supplying Class A drugs, and possession of offensive weapons.

The operation focused on arterial routes and motorways in and around London including the M25, M11, M4 and the M20, and used Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and intelligence to target vehicles linked to violent crime.

More than 50 vehicles and scores of illegal items such as drugs were seized by officers as part of the crackdown on gang violence and drugs.

Footage captured the moment some of the suspects were detained.

Chief Inspector Jack May-Robinson from the Metropolitan Police’s violent crime task force said: “Some of the individuals arrested are extremely dangerous, lead criminal lifestyles and exploit vulnerable people to run drugs and commit crime.

“Due to the need to safeguard those who have been exploited, we resourced a dedicated phone line of trained officers to give specialist advice to officers to ensure the best care and response possible.

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“Operation Pandilla is part of our effort to target the drivers of violent crime.

“Drugs are inextricably linked to a high proportion of the violence – therefore we will continue to target those who exploit children to peddle drugs and target the most vulnerable within our communities. We simply can’t do this alone and must work with our partners.”

He added: “Our message to criminals using the road network to transport drugs and illegal assets is clear – we are tirelessly working 24/7 to disrupt you.

“If you are stopped with anything illegal we will arrest you and put you before the courts. We are working stronger together and sharing intelligence across borders to make it as hard as possible for you to run county lines.”

Inspector Myles Hilbery, of the City of London Police’s roads policing unit, said: “The City of London Police takes a zero tolerance approach to those involved in county lines gangs, which facilitate wider, organised and violent crime.

“These organised criminal networks exploit children and vulnerable people to help facilitate their crime, and we’re committed to working with our partners to identify people at risk of exploitation and provide them with the support they need.

“While the country remains in the midst of a pandemic, we’re aware that these types of gangs are still trying to operate, so equally we won’t let up in our efforts to tackle them and the evil they perpetuate.”