Drug dealing over county borders

Drug networking - what is a county line?

A big city organised crime group who extend their business of drug dealing into new areas is known as 'county lines'.

These criminal groups use a phone number, known as a 'drugs line', to contact their customers to sell class A drugs.

How drugs are transported

Drug dealing groups often use young people to deliver their drugs, by paying them or by forcing them through violence and grooming.

These young people, known as 'runners', are usually male and aged between 12 and 20. The young people travel between big cities and other areas to deliver drugs and collect cash on behalf of the dealers.

Forced drug transporting

Adult drug or substance users, including vulnerable young boys and girls, are forced to help with the running of the county line. They may swallow drugs to avoid police finding them.

Human trafficking forms another part of this type of crime. Dealers will force young and vulnerable people into storing and supplying drugs.

Members of these organised crime groups target vulnerable people to handle drugs for them, to take away the risk of getting caught with drugs themselves. The targeted vulnerable drug transporters are often:

  • children in care
  • children absent from school
  • children missing from home
  • single parents on low incomes

The organised crime groups are known to use violence and manipulation against these vulnerable people.

Recognising drug networking

Would you recognise if drug dealing was happening where you live or work in Cambridgeshire? Would you know if someone was being used as a drugs mule by a drug gang? It's important to spot the signs of drug activity and how to report it to us.

Suspected drug dealing from a house

Have you noticed more people living at an address of a person you know to be vulnerable? Drug dealers can take over the home of a vulnerable person, make them sell drugs and use the home as a place for others to take drugs. Unusual activity could include:

  • lots of different people coming and going from an address
  • people coming and going at odd times of the day and night
  • weird smells coming from the property
  • windows covered or curtains closed all the time
  • cars pulling up to or near the house for a short period of time.

If you have noticed any of this type of unusual activity and suspect drug dealing at a house in your area, you should report this to us online or call 101.

Handling mobile phones or lots of cash

You may not see the runners with any drugs but you may see the signs of drug dealing such as large amounts of cash or lots of mobile phones - usually very cheap pay-as-you-go types.

The signs of a runner or drug dealer can include:

  • someone having more cash, clothing or phones than normal
  • talk of gang names in the area
  • someone using nicknames when speaking about others.

These signs are often a good indicator that someone is involved in county lines drug crime.

Drug packing materials

Vaseline, cling film and baby wipes are regularly used when storing drugs into body cavities. There is a big health risk to anyone storing drugs in their body.

If you suspect someone is handling and moving drugs in this way let us know and you may save a life.

Rise in violent crimes

Organised crime groups use violence to take over other groups to grow their drug business activities. They also use violence to make people pay off drug debt or for not paying their debts.

'Beef' is common gang slang language, which means to have a grudge against someone and want to have a fight with that person. If you know or suspect someone is being threatened with violence, please report this to us online, calling 101, or 999 if it is an emergency.

Drug use support

There are many local and national drug support specialists and websites, which you may find useful:

Report drug activity in your area

We all have a role to play in keeping our local areas safe from drug dealing. Here are some questions that might help you identify strange activities where you live or work, that might be related to drugs:

  • have you seen something you think could be drug related?
  • do you know someone who is being forced or asked to deal drugs?
  • do you know someone who has a drugs debt?
  • do you suspect someone is dealing drugs?
  • have you seen a vehicle you think is transporting drugs?
  • are lots of vehicles visiting a particular house at all times of the day and night?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you can report drugs related crimes to us online or call us on 101. You don't have to tell us your name, just what you know or have seen.

If you'd prefer you can contact Crimestoppers to report anonymously online or by calling them on 0800 555 111.

If someone is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place you should always call 999.

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