News

Detectives targeting county lines gangs

Friday, December 21, 2018

A major operation aimed at targeting organised crime groups which supply drugs in Blackpool is continuing throughout Christmas and the New Year.

Operation Warrior was launched in response to an increase in criminal gangs from outside the county bringing cocaine and heroin into the resort.

Dealers from the Merseyside, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and London areas have been targeting vulnerable adults and teenagers to help supply drugs throughout the town.

Detectives have already made 10 arrests and said people who continue carrying out these offences could face this Christmas in prison.

Det Chief Insp Becky Smith, of Blackpool Police, said: “Our message to these gangs is if you visit Blackpool to conduct your criminal activities, expect you and your vehicles to be stopped and searched by police officers. We will disrupt your day to day activities and make your lives as difficult as possible. Where necessary, we will make arrests and you could be charged.

“The criminal exploitation of teenagers and vulnerable adults has received considerable media attention over the past year with particular focus on the risks of county lines activity.

“Organised crime groups use children and adults to transport and sell Class A drugs, primarily from urban areas into market or coastal towns or rural areas to establish new drug markets or take over existing ones.

“County lines involves human trafficking and exploitation, alongside drug supply and violent crime and is a highly lucrative business with those running the lines earning thousands of pounds per day. Those adults running the gangs are removed from front line activity and exploit youths who are at high risk transporting and selling drugs often many miles from home. There are high levels of violence and intimidation linked to this activity which is why resources are being directed towards these groups over the festive and New Year period.”

As part of the campaign, officers want to trace three men (pictured) wanted on suspicion of a number of offences.

  • Thomas Jackson, 23, formerly of Queen Victoria Road, Blackpool, has links to the Oxford area and is being sought in connection with supplying drugs, assault and affray offences.
  • Kye Fox, 26, of Chestnut Grove, Lancaster, is wanted in connection with making threats to kill in November.
  • Zac Cuffe, 25, of Chestnut Grove, Lancaster, is wanted on recall to prison.

Det Chief Insp Smith added: “The message we want to send out is that Blackpool is not an attractive proposition for county lines criminals, so stay away.

“Christmas is a time for our communities to enjoy spending time with their loved ones and we want to ensure that we make the streets of Blackpool as safe as possible. We are working closely with the local authority and in addition to targeting those criminals who are causing these issues we will be safeguarding any children or adults who we believe are vulnerable to these groups.

“Part of our enquiries include attempts to trace these three wanted men. If you see them, or know where they are, please contact police immediately.

“While I am confident we have a clear picture of those responsible for these issues, I would like to encourage the community to report any information around county lines groups or the whereabouts of those wanted for these offences to us either anonymously via Crimestoppers or 101.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Ten people have been arrested in connection with the operation.

Mert Gercek, 22, of Knowsley Road, St Helens, was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, assault and prison recall. He has been returned to prison.

Kadeem Hodgson, 18, of Ritson Street, Liverpool, was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, assault and prison recall. He has been returned to prison.

Christian Cook, 19, of Woburn Road, Bedford, was arrested and charged with two offences of conspiring to supply a Class A drug. He appeared at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on December 17.

Jason Proctor, 35, of Balmoral Road, Liverpool, was arrested and charged with being concerned in the supply of heroin. He appeared at Blackpool Magistrates Court on December 12.

A 19-year-old man from St Helens was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply and assault. He was released under investigation pending further enquiries.

A 19-year-old man from Liverpool was arrested on suspicion of assault and bailed to January 11.

A 32-year-old man from Leeds was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply and dangerous driving. He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

A 48-year-old man from Leyland was arrested on suspicion of on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply. He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

A 38-year-old woman from Blackpool was arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. She has been released under investigation.

A 44-year-old man from Blackpool was arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. He has been released under investigation.


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