Dangerous drug networks and county lines
Dangerous drug networks are run by criminal gangs and involve the production, transportation (also known as trafficking) and sale of illegal substances. These gangs exploit the people who they sell drugs to and those who they force to take part in their activities. These people may encounter abuse and violence from gang members. People are often groomed into being exploited by offers of free drugs and money.
County lines is a form of dangerous drug network. It involves transporting drugs from large urban areas to smaller towns and rural areas. County lines gangs exploit vulnerable children and adults, forcing them to transport and sell drugs. Gangs may take over someone’s house by force and use this as a base for drug dealing. This is called “cuckooing”.
Drug gangs are active in towns, villages and coastal areas across the South West, and drugs are being trafficked into Devon from across the country. Drug gangs operating in Devon are increasingly exploiting local young people and vulnerable adults.
Signs that a young person or vulnerable adult is being exploited could include:
- Leaving home, staying out late, or going missing
- Meeting up with new people, some of whom may be older, controlling or part of a gang
- Having lots of new items such as money, drugs and expensive clothing
- Using lots of mobile phones and receiving lots of calls
- Becoming more aggressive or violent
- Having signs of physical injury, which may be signs of abuse or punishment by drug gangs
- Drugs are often transported on public transport networks. Look out for people (often children) travelling alone, who may appear unfamiliar with the area. They may have an accent which suggests that they are from another region
Signs that a vulnerable adult is being cuckooed could include:
- More people entering a property than usual, or leaving and arriving at unusual times. They might be strangers but claim to be a friend of the person living in the property
- Noticing that the person living at the property has not been seen for a while
- Suspicious items at the property, such as lots of mobile phones, drug equipment, cash, and other items of value
If you are concerned that someone is being exploited help is available.
What we are doing to tackle dangerous drug networks and county lines in Devon
We work with local, regional and national partners to raise awareness of county lines and drug trafficking within our communities, improve the reporting and understanding of the issue, reduce people’s vulnerability to being exploited, support and protect victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.
We have developed an online Preventing Exploitation Toolkit to tackle the threat of exploitation in Devon. The toolkit provides information and support to help frontline workers learn about, identify and report exploitation. It is designed for anyone who, through their paid or voluntary role, may come across people who are vulnerable to exploitation.
HELP AND SUPPORT
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger contact 999.
If you are concerned about someone’s safety or welfare contact:
The Children’s Society
Information and advice for parents and carers of children affected by county lines.