POLICE officers are texting numbers found on phones seized from drug dealers to try and target middle-class users.

Sussex Police have begun sending the texts to warn potential drug users about child exploitation in the trade.

The texts are sent after the force successfully applies for a court order to disconnect a drug dealers' phone.

The Times reports that the texts say: "We have blocked a drug dealer's telephone number from taking any more calls and the number we have texted has previously made contact with the line."

The tactic comes amidst an ongoing battle to combat county lines operations, which involves children and vulnerable people being used as drug mules.

They are used to transport drugs and cash to-and-from London and rural or coastal areas by gangs.

Home Office figures show that at least 2000 London children have been drawn into county lines operations.

The teens, some as young as 14, had been supplied with drugs and dealing kits including deal bags and scales.

Detective Superintendent Tim Champion, deputy head of the national county lines co-ordination centre, told The Times: "Middle-class drug users are fuelling the drug trade that leads to exploitation and violence in the streets.

"Your dealer might be middle-aged but that doesn't mean that somewhere down the line a child isn't being exploited as part of the same enterprise."