Thirteen men have been arrested as part of an investigation into what the National Crime Agency (NCA) is calling the largest UK drugs importation operation yet discovered.
They are thought to be part of the UK arm of a ‘well-established’ organised crime group that used Dutch and British front companies to import heroin, cocaine and cannabis hidden in lorries carrying vegetables and juice. The group is responsible for importing more than 50 tonnes of drugs, says the agency, with six Dutch citizens also awaiting extradition to the UK.
‘We suspect these men were involved in an industrial-scale operation – the biggest ever uncovered in the UK – bringing in tonnes of deadly drugs that were distributed to crime groups throughout the country,’ said NCA’s regional head of investigations, Jayne Lloyd. ‘By working closely with partners here and overseas, in particular the Dutch national police, we believe we have dismantled a well-established drug supply route.’
Meanwhile, a new briefing from Transform states that the expansion of county lines activity is partly a response to effective policing that has disrupted conventional supply routes. Sophisticated organised crime groups groom and exploit young and vulnerable people as they are ‘harder for police to detect and arrest, easier to control, and are readily replaced’, with police and social services facing an ‘impossible task’ to protect them.
‘We need to acknowledge that behind all this lies a system of drug prohibition that leads to disastrous consequences,’ says County lines drug supply – exploiting the young and vulnerable; enriching organised crime. ‘County lines is a system of supply that only exists because the trade is left completely unregulated.’
Document at https://transformdrugs.org/county-lines/