SUSSEX is the cocaine capital of England and Wales, with police seizing more of the drug here per person than in any other area, it has been revealed.

Home Office data shows Sussex Police made 1,188 seizures of cocaine in 2019-20.

At 694 seizures per million population, it was the highest rate for any police force in England and Wales apart from in the City of London, where many people work but few people live.

In Sussex, cannabis was the most commonly seized drug.

It was involved in 70 per cent of seizures where the drug type was known.

This was followed by cocaine at 18 per cent and crack cocaine at six per cent

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It comes as the National Police Chiefs’ Council said officers across England and Wales have taken more of the highest-harm illegal drugs off the streets in recent years, preventing them from bolstering a “multi-million-pound illicit market”.

Cocaine is categorised as a class A drug, considered to be the most harmful.

Possession carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison plus an unlimited fine, while those caught supplying it face life in prison.

The Home Office cautioned that the most recent figures for Sussex Police are an estimate, as the force did not supply complete records.

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Detective Superintendent Stuart Hale, force lead on exploitation issues, said: “Reports of seizures of drugs reflect to a great extent police activity and success in disrupting drug dealing and are not necessarily related to the prevalence of particular types in a community.

“Numbers of seizures also do not indicate the actual quantities seized.

“In Sussex, we are relentlessly pursuing individuals and groups involved in the supply of controlled drugs including cocaine, targeting those groups using intelligence and using all possible lawful tactics in order to prevent them supplying and affecting our communities.

“In the past eight months alone, for example, we have arrested 754 people on suspicion of seeking to traffic drugs in Sussex.

“In relation to cocaine, we are constantly disrupting ‘county lines’ dealing by drug networks that originate from large urban areas such as London to other communities. Several of these cases relate to our work with the Metropolitan Police on Operation Orochi.

“This targets drug dealers based in London, with the aim of systematically dismantling their drugs ‘lines‘ they operate running into Sussex.

“These are the people who are not ‘hands-on’ with the commodity and avoid police contact but exploit others, often the young and the vulnerable, to run drugs locally.”

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Earlier this month a drug kingpin was jailed for 22 years for running a multi-million-pound drug smuggling ring.

Crime boss Matthew Harrod led a network of smugglers and couriers who used encrypted mobile phones to deal drugs including cannabis, heroin, cocaine and amphetamines.

He along with nine other members of the gang were all jailed at Woolwich Crown Court on December 10.

This was the end of a Metropolitan Police operation that began when the gang was placed under surveillance in June 2018.

Harrod, 47, of Kingsway, Hove, had been released from prison in 2017 after serving part of a previous ten-year sentence for drug dealing and been placed under a serious crime prevention order.