OPERATION RAPTOR - Cracking down on county lines
Operation Raptor is the force wide response towards County Drug lines operating in Essex. The team operate to proactively target those supplying Class A drugs, predominantly Crack cocaine and Heroin in Essex from London or other neighbouring counties. County Lines attract significant violence and exploitation due to the nature of the offending. Op Raptor dismantle drug lines from the top, ensuring that those operating under duress are safeguarded and removed from those circles.
A ‘gang’ is defined as a relatively durable, predominantly street-based group of people who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group and who engage in a range of criminal activity and violence.
They may also have any or all of the following factors:
· identify with or lay claim over territory
· have some form of identifying structure feature
· are in conflict with other, similar gangs.
County Lines refers to gangs and organised criminal networks which export/supply illegal drugs into suburban, rural and coastal areas, using dedicated mobile phone lines or ‘deal lines’.
County Lines gangs criminally exploit children and vulnerable adults to move drugs and money.
The gangs move into a rural or suburban area for a short time, taking over the home of a vulnerable person where they set up a base in order to deal drugs - this is known as cuckooing.
County Lines activity and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation has a devastating impact on children & young people, vulnerable adults and local communities.
Many of those taken advantage of by these gangs have been forced to carry out criminal activity by threats, grooming and extortion and can be described as modern day slaves.
Operation Raptor Updates
Since the end of March 2022, the North Raptor team who cover Colchester, Tendring, Braintree, Uttlesford, Maldon and Chelmsford have been exceptionally busy with a large amount of enforcement being undertaken across the LPA.
Charge and Remands: 27
Cash Seized: £13,800 + £15,500 in asset recovery
Drugs Recovered: 123.4 grams of Crack Cocaine, 54.76 grams of Heroin, 24.87 grams of Cocaine and 123 grams of Cannabis
Weapons Recovered: 7 – including two imitation firearms and one S5 firearm
Main Drug Line Phones Seized: 16
Some of their work in Colchester is highlighted below:
- On 21st April 2022 Op Raptor officers arrested a male on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A relating to a County Line in Colchester. This investigation began with the arrest of a juvenile in London who was found in possession of a loaded firearm. He provided a DCS stating he was being forced to supply drugs by the line. From that point telephone work identified the person responsible. He has been charged and remanded for being concerned in the supply of Crack and Heroin.
- On 19th May OP Raptor officers identified and arrested a London male who had been identified as the line holder for a County Line operating in Colchester. A second line was identified during the search of his address and the drug line phone recovered. Inside his address officers seized 61 wraps of Class A, £270 cash and 424 grams of Cannabis. The male was interviewed, charged with concerned in the supply x 2 and PWITS cannabis. He was remanded in custody.
- On 7th June the North Disruptor team attended a Colchester address in connection with a welfare check on the occupant, a vulnerable drug user. Inside the premises were two males. Operation Raptor attended the address and carried out a search for drugs of them, both were then arrested for being concerned in the supply of class A drugs. On the premises being searched a phone and a large sword/machete was located under the settee the two males were located on. Over £1000 cash was seized from the males.
- On 23rd June 2022 Raptor executed a warrant in London to arrest a male who had been attributed to a County Line through phone analysis. He was conveyed to Colchester Custody where he was charged and remanded for being concerned in the supply of Class A. He has since pled guilty and is awaiting sentence.
- On 25th June 2022 a vehicle was stopped and a search began. The passenger, from London, began to run away and discarded a phone which was recovered by Police. This was confirmed to be the County line phone. Both he and the driver were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A. Operation Raptor officers came in the following day to pick up the prisoners and conducted a further search of the vehicle with a drugs dog, who located approximately 1 ounce of Crack Cocaine and Heroin concealed behind the glove box with a street value of approximately £2,800. Both prisoners were interviewed, CPS were approached and both were charged with PWITS x 2 and being concerned in the supply x 2.
If you know of drug dealing in your area - you can contact Essex Police to provide information or contact Crimestoppers