Police have arrested 222 people and seized over £1 million worth of drugs during a week-long crackdown on County Line gangs in London.

The crackdown took place over a week from Monday, February 27 until Sunday, March 5.

Officers focused on those running county lines in London who cause “violence” and “anti-social behaviour” within communities.

222 arrests led to 105 people charged with a total of 223 charges, 150 drug trafficking charges, 131 Class A and B drug charges, 177 vulnerable people safeguarded, and 77 lines closed.

During the week officers seized 8.3 kilograms of Class A drugs, 37.6 kilograms of Class B drugs and £652,214 in cash.

Five firearms and 51 weapons including knives, machetes and swords were also seized.

Police say that in several cases vulnerable children are targeted by offenders and placed in “incredibly dangerous” environments.

Police say these children are “supported” and “safeguarded” as opposed to being criminalised.

Detective Superintendent Rick Sewart, Lead Responsible Officer for County Lines in the Met, said: “County lines is intrinsically linked to homicide & serious violence; 80% of County Lines offenders charged with drug trafficking this FY have previously been arrested for violence”

“County lines networks prey upon children and young people, trafficking them and subjecting them to modern slavery involving horrendous emotional and physical abuse.

“Victims are coerced through violence, blackmail & debt bondage, to hold and supply drugs.

“Those involved use weapons and serious violence including kidnaps to intimidate and threaten victims.

“County Lines networks also prey upon the vulnerable to fuel Class A drug addiction, which poses huge socio-economic consequences for communities; increasing anti-social behaviour & acquisitive crimes, including burglary and robbery.

“The Met takes a multi-agency approach to tackling County Lines and Exploitation, working with partners to protect the vulnerable through prevention & diversion.

“The Met is committed to relentlessly pursue those responsible for County Lines drug supply, bringing them to justice for their abhorrent crimes”.

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Since November 2019, over 1800 lines have been closed by Met Police with over 3300 arrests of county line offenders made.

During this period, Met’s Operation Orochi County Lines Taskforce has been using “data-driven” methods to arrest over 1100 line holders, resulting in 88% being charged and 94% convicted.

The taskforce has charged 60 defendants with 86 modern slavery offences.

James Simmonds-Read, National Prevention Programme Manager from the Children Society, said: “It’s crucial that professionals can identify when children have been exploited by criminals, so we are pleased that many vulnerable people - including young people - have been identified to receive support. 

“Any child in any community can be groomed and exploited and that includes children entering adulthood”.