TWENTY-SEVEN people have been arrested during a two week crackdown on county lines drug dealing across West Mercia.

The crackdown saw heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine and cannabis seized by police in a series of raids across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.

More than £35,000 in cash was seized, along with 20 mobile phones and weapons, these included knives and an imitation hand gun.

This criminal activity was targeted during a two week crackdown in February as part of the Protect campaign, which aims to tackle organised crime and disrupt those causing the most harm in communities.

Officers visited ‘cuckooed’ homes - where the vulnerable resident is believed to be being exploited by drug dealers. They identified and safeguarded vulnerable people at risk of being exploited.

Officers also engaged in education activity with fast food outlets, care homes, schools, local authorities, petrol stations and travel hubs across the counties.

Chief Superintendent Damian Barratt said: “West Mercia Police is no different to any other Police Force across the country where county lines drug dealers are exploiting vulnerable children, young people and adults.

“Organised crime groups are targeting our local communities and exploiting vulnerable people to transport drugs into our counties.

"In a practice known as cuckoo-ing, offenders often seek to take over the homes of vulnerable people to further facilitate drug dealing.

“These groups are often involved in serious violence and do not think twice about putting young and vulnerable people in frightening situations, causing them to make decisions that can ultimately change their lives and the lives of others forever.

"We are determined to do all we can to stop this from happening.

“We’re committed to tackling serious and organised crime as part of our ‘Protect’ campaign. Despite the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions this criminality continues and no matter what the circumstances, our officers are here 24/7 365 days a year to protect people from harm.”

To report concerns about County Lines visit the Tell Us About section of .

Alternatively information can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Crimestoppers is independent of police and completely confidential.