DOZENS of people have been arrested and thousands of pounds worth of drugs seized during a crackdown on county lines drug gangs.

Sussex Police boosted activity in the week from October 11 with 31 arrests, 15 warrants executed and drugs with an estimated street value of more than £9,000 taken off the streets.

The crime gangs are urban drug dealers who sell to customers in more rural areas via dedicated phone lines.

They are notorious for exploiting children to work as couriers and forcing vulnerable people to let them use their homes to conceal or deal drugs.

During the week of action, 57 of these “cuckooed” homes were visited by law enforcement, and vulnerable people were safeguarded.

Detective Chief Inspector Will Rolls said: "County line drug dealing continues to be a threat with currently 30 county lines active across Sussex.

“The force's primary concern remains the exploitation and trafficking of vulnerable adults and children.”

In Brighton and Hove, there were 20 arrests linked to enforcement.

The Argus: Police doing a drugs raid.Police doing a drugs raid.

This included working with British Transport Police to set up an electronic knife detection act at Brighton, the use of automatic number plate recognition and surveillance of suspects in the city.

Arrests were made for class A drugs supply offences, possession of offensive weapons including a lock knife and a samurai-style sword, and money laundering.

Class A drugs and cannabis with an estimated street value of some £6,500 were seized along with £4,250 cash and 35 mobile phones were seized from suspects.

In East Sussex, activity included execution of four warrants, with five arrests, while in West Sussex, five warrants were executed.

At an address in Bexhill, officers seized £2,000 worth of cocaine.

Officers from the West Sussex Community Investigation Team (CIT) executed a warrant with the assistance of the Metropolitan Police at an address in Thornton Heath, South London.

Three people were arrested and charged with conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine, and money laundering.

Inspector Rolls said: “Even during the recent lockdowns we continued every day to disrupt dealers who try to deal dangerous drugs across our communities, and we target those who use children to sell drugs or those who buy drugs from children.

“We investigate and prosecute, working relentlessly and targeting those who would bring harm to local people, including often the most vulnerable.

"Local crime is often a direct result of major drug distribution via county lines and by working together with partners to shed a light on this often hidden crime. We are sending a clear message to drug dealers that they cannot expect to go undetected in Sussex."

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