In a national ‘week of action’ South Yorkshire Police have arrested 13 men and one woman, targeting county lines drug gangs and child exploitation.
County lines refers to the transportation of illegal drugs from one area to another, often urban to rural, and across police force boundaries.
Detective Inspector Ben Wood, who led the operation, said: “National weeks of action like this are so important for us to shine a light on issues around child exploitation and county lines.”
In these criminal operations, drugs are frequently transported and sold by children, who gangs have coerced.
Gangs sometimes take over vulnerable adults’ homes as bases to deal drugs from, which is known as ‘cuckooing’.
Raids carried out across South Yorkshire led to police seizing over £1,000 worth of crack cocaine and £157,000 worth of cannabis.
Across the week, police visited three properties believed to be cuckooed and put safeguarding in place for residents.
Det Insp Wood continued: “We know how devastating this type of crime can be to families and communities across South Yorkshire.
“Although this week was around disrupting county lines activity, we have also been raising awareness of child exploitation. Everybody has a role to play in spotting the signs a child might be exploited, through drug running, money laundering or sexually.”
As well as action targeting criminal activity, SYP engaged with an adult and 12 children who had been identified as being at risk of being exploited.
Officers also visited schools to help raise awareness of the risks of county lines.
DI Wood added: “Although the week of action for county lines is now over, our work to disrupt this is far from over. We have dedicated teams that will continue every day to make South Yorkshire safer for everyone.”
More information about county lines and how to spot exploitation can be found at County Lines – National Crime Agency