Nearly 600 people have been arrested in a single week for their suspected involvement in drug dealing across county lines.
The coordinated law enforcement activity has seen 500 men and 86 women arrested, 46 weapons seized and over £200,000 worth of drugs recovered.
National Crime Agency county lines lead and director of investigations, Nikki Holland, said: ‘Tackling county lines and the misery it causes is a national law enforcement priority and these results demonstrate the power of a whole-system response to a complex problem that we’re seeing in every area of the UK.
‘We know that criminal networks use high levels of violence, exploitation and abuse to ensure compliance from the vulnerable people they employ to do the day-to-day drug supply activity.’
The Children’s Society called on the Government to launch the promised missing persons’ database to protect children from being exploited through county lines.
‘Too many children exploited through county lines are still not being referred to the National Referral Mechanism - the system used to identify victims of modern slavery and human trafficking – and failing to get help from an independent advocate to ensure they are supported as victims,’ said Iryna Pona, policy manager at The Children’s Society.
‘Without these changes, more vulnerable children will continue to fall prey to this cynical exploitation.’