Police make three arrests in Stevenage during county lines drug gangs operation

Drugs seized in Stevenage's Fairlands Valley Park as part of Operation Mantis. Picture courtesy of H

Drugs seized in Stevenage's Fairlands Valley Park as part of Operation Mantis. Picture courtesy of Herts police. - Credit: Archant

Herts police have carried out five raids, made six arrests and seized drugs and cash as part of a week-long operation against drug gangs in the county.

A property in Lapwing Rise, Stevenage, was raided as part of Operation Mantis, which aims to identify and disrupt county lines gang activity – drug dealing which involves criminal networks from urban areas expanding their activities into smaller towns and rural areas.

No arrests were made at the Stevenage address but, working on intelligence, three people were stopped and searched in Fairlands Valley Park in the town.

Two 17-year-old boys and an 18-year-old man, all from Stevenage, were arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A and Class B drugs with intent to supply.

They have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

A quantity of suspected Class A and Class B drugs were seized along with cash.

County lines drug activity often involves the exploitation of children, as gangs use young people and those with mental health or addiction problems to transport drugs and money.

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Detective Sergeant Jon Leak said: “Although we do not have a major problem with county lines gangs in Herts, it is a growing national issue that we must target at its core through early disruption and, wherever possible, before serious offences occur.

“Last week we joined police forces up and down the country in a week of action to target those who are involved in drugs supply and exploiting the vulnerable.

“This type of criminal activity and the associated violence and exploitation has a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults, families and local communities.”

Police officers also put two knife arches at Stevenage railway station to identify people who carry weapons.

No knives were found, but two men in possession of a small amount of cannabis were given a warning.

DS Leak said: “The public plays a key role in providing us with information about gang and drug activity and I would urge anyone who believes this type of crime is happening in their neighbourhood to report it to police.”

Anyone with information can call Herts police on 101 or visit herts.police.uk/report.

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