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XL bully dogs seized in county lines drug gangs crackdown

Eight XL bully dogs have been seized along with hundreds of weapons and millions of pounds worth of drugs in a crackdown on county lines gangs.

Police arrested more than 1,800 suspects and shut down 245 of the dealing phone lines, used to distribute drugs from cities to towns and villages, in a seven-day series of raids across the country last week.

Vulnerable youngsters are often forced to act as couriers or tricked into taking part in financial crimes, and officers said more than 1,600 people who were being exploited were brought to safety.

National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for county lines, Commander Paul Brogden, said: “We have targeted the drug dealers who destroy lives and communities, with over 1,800 criminals arrested.

“County lines drug dealing is linked to the most serious violence, demonstrated through the horrific weapons seized across the week, where we saw 660 weapons seized, including 96 firearms, 466 bladed weapons, and 98 other weapons including hammers, nunchucks, batons and knuckledusters.”

Police said eight XL bullys were seized, after it last month became a criminal offence to own one of the dogs without an exemption certificate, as well as more than £2.5m worth of Class A and B drugs, including crack, heroin, cocaine and cannabis.

File photo dated 30/09/23 of an XL bully dog called Riz, during a protest against the Government's decision to add XL bully dogs to the list of prohibited breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act following a spate of attacks. XL bully dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public under new restrictions, amid fears among animal welfare groups that a looming ban on the breed will overwhelm vets and rescue centres. Issue date: Sunday December 31, 2023.
Image: Eight XL bully dogs were seized. File pic: PA

Officers also visited more than 1,200 addresses that had been taken over for so-called cuckooing, where vulnerable people are forced to allow criminals to use their homes as a base for storing or dealing drugs.

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Policing minister Chris Philp said: “County lines gangs inflict harrowing damage and misery, using violence and intimidation to exploit children and vulnerable people to do their dirty work.

“Our police forces work incredibly hard every day to break up these criminal networks and I want to pay thanks to our officers for their continued efforts to tackle this vile activity.”

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James Simmonds-Read, national programme manager at The Children’s Society, said criminals are increasingly “targeting and manipulating” children into taking part in financial crime.

“Sadly, financial exploitation is often connected to other forms of abuse,” he said.

“What may start with sharing bank details and the promise of easy cash can then turn into threats of sexual abuse or children being made to hold or move drugs for criminal groups.

“It’s a serious problem which needs attention to protect children from being exploited.

“Financial exploitation can happen to any child, in any village, town or city regardless of their background.

“While criminals don’t care about the children they target online through gaming and social media platforms, or places like shops and cashpoints, we know the public do care about keeping children safe.”

Sky News Source