Herts Police carried out a week of operations targeting county lines drugs gangs as part of a national county lines week of action.
Between Monday, February 27, and Sunday, March 5, the Operation Mantis team, working with the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), Operational Intelligence Team, Operational Support Group and local crime units, carried out warrants targeting gangs involved in drug dealing.
The teams carried out warrants at addresses in Watford, Dacorum, Hertsmere, Stevenage, Welwyn Hatfield and Luton. Nineteen individuals were arrested in total, with eight of those being charged and remanded into custody. More than £9,000 in cash, large quantities of class A and class B drugs, and several weapons were recovered. Thirteen individuals were safeguarded during the operations, including 11 minors.
Two individuals from Watford were charged: Kerrell Bayley, 21, of Cooperdale Court, Watford, who was charged with being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, and Nderim Hoxha, 23, of Liverpool Road, Watford, who was charged with possession with intent to supply class A drugs.
A 14-year-old boy from Hemel Hempstead was among the 19 arrested and was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.
All 19 were released whilst investigations continue.
Forces across the UK carried out similar operations with support from the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre and ERSOU, as part of a national drive to disrupt and arrest those involved in county lines.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Clawson, from Herts Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Command, said: “This latest week of action is part of our continuing drive to disrupt and dismantle county lines gangs operating in the county. The operations involved a number of different teams across the force, working with our partners to target county lines drug dealing in Hertfordshire and I appreciate all their hard work and support.
“We have made many significant arrests, seizing large amounts of drugs and cash in the process and doing substantial damage to these gangs’ operations.
“We take a very proactive approach, working with our partners in other forces and national agencies to make it difficult for these crime groups to operate in our towns, identifying new gangs and targeting them early before they get a foothold and serious offences can occur.
“We’re also working to raise awareness of county lines among young people, parents, teachers and other members of the community to help protect the vulnerable and prevent them from getting involved in gang activity.”
Detective Inspector Kelly Gray, county lines coordinator at ERSOU, said: “Significant work continues to take place across the region to target those operating drugs lines and to provide safeguarding and support to the vulnerable and young people who are often being exploited.
“Nearly 150 people were arrested across eastern England during the intensification period, with roughly 2,000 wraps of heroin and cocaine seized along with cannabis and illicit prescription medicines. Weapons including knives and a firearm were also found and seized.
“A clear indicator of the scale of criminality involved is that more than £85,000 in cash was also seized during the operation. However, we frequently find that those profiting most from county drugs lines often keep their hands clean of the running of drugs and instead exploit vulnerable people to do their dirty work for them.
“That’s why we continue to urge parents and carers to look for the signs that their child may be being exploited for criminal gain.”
Anyone with information on drug dealing or gang-related crime is asked to contact Herts Police via the non-emergency number 101 or report information online at www.herts.police.uk/report