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Eight arrested during week of action targeting County Lines gangs

25 Sep 2020
  • Eight arrested in a week of operations targeting drug networks

  • Operations carried out across the country against County Lines gangs

  • Six subsequently charged with drug offences

Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Mantis team, a specialist unit dedicated to tackling County Lines, carried out a week of operations against drug gangs between Monday 14 September and Friday 18 September.

During the week of action seven warrants were executed at addresses across the county and the Mantis team, supported by Local Policing Command officers made eight arrests.

Those arrested were:

  • Neil Dwumfour, 30, of Stanstead Road, Hoddesdon charged with being concerned in the supply class A drugs
  • Brian Liles, 44, of Collett Road, Ware – charged with being concerned in the supply class A drugs
  • Faizan Farooq, 28, of Argyll Avenue, Luton – charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs
  • Rehan Farooq, 26, of Argyll Avenue , Luton – charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs
  • Aaron Cooper, 27, of Mobbsbury Way, Stevenage – charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs
  • Djelloul Belakehal, 18, of Redhill Road, Hitchin – charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs
  • A 26 year old man from Luton – arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class A drugs
  • A 21 year old man from London – arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class A drugs

Forces across the UK carried out similar operations with support from the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre (NCLCC) and Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, as part of a national drive, to disrupt and arrest those involved in County Lines.

The Operation Mantis team was launched in 2018 and is made up of officers who specialise in targeting serious and organised crime. Since May 2019 the team have executed over 150 search warrants, made 148 arrests and seized over £125,000 in cash. This has led to 42 County Lines gangs being dismantled and offenders sentenced to more than 125 years in prison.

Detective Sergeant Jon Leak, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Mantis team, said: “We have been able to make a significant impact on these criminal gangs operating in Hertfordshire over the last two years. This latest week of action is part of our continuing drive to disrupt and dismantle County Lines operating in the county. We are taking a very proactive approach and making it difficult for these organisations to operate in our towns, identifying new gangs and targeting them early before they get a foothold and serious offences can occur.

“Police forces across the country took part in the coordinated week of action to target those who are involved in drugs supply and exploiting vulnerable people. We continue to work with partners at national and local level, to target these gangs and also 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.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Hertfordshire Constabulary via the non-emergency number 101 or report information online at www.herts.police.uk/report.

Alternatively, you can contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will never need to go to court.

What is County Lines?

County Lines is the name given to describe drug dealing, which involves criminal networks from urban areas expanding their activities into smaller towns and rural areas.

It often involves the exploitation of children, as gangs use young people and those with mental health or addiction problems to transport drugs and money. These gangs establish a base in the location they are targeting, often taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion in a practice referred to as ‘cuckooing’.

Dealers typically use a single phone line to facilitate the supply of Class A drugs to customers. The phone line is highly valuable and is protected through violence and intimidation.

What is Cuckooing?

Cuckooing is the term used when gangs establish a base in the location they are targeting, often taking over the homes of vulnerable adults by force or coercion.

How to spot the signs that cuckooing might be happening in your neighbourhood:

  • Lots of different people coming and going from an address during the day and at night.
  • Suspicious smells coming from the property.
  • Windows covered or curtains closed all of the time.
  • Cars pulling up to or near to the house for a short period of time.
  • An increase in anti-social behaviour around the property.

Help and support for those with drug addiction:

If someone you know has a drug problem, they can get help by contacting Frank on 0800 77 66 00 or visiting www.talktofrank.com.

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