A police operation in East Sussex involving three forces has disrupted organised crime groups seeking to distribute dangerous drugs.
In dawn raids at addresses in Eastbourne, Hastings and London on Wednesday 4 May, Sussex Police, supported by London’s Metropolitan Police and Surrey Police, led the execution of 19 drugs warrants, resulting in 18 arrests on suspicion of involvement in the supply of Class A drugs.
Around 5,000 wraps of crack cocaine and heroin were seized during the raids, as well as 7kg of cocaine, 2kg of heroin, £300,000 in cash and four phones suspected of being used in the running of county drugs lines between Sussex, Surrey and Norwich.
Chief Superintendent Katy Woolford, divisional commander for East Sussex, said: “This complex and well-coordinated operation has resulted from months of planning and intelligence development, in which our colleagues from London have played a key role.
“This effort has led to a substantial quantity of dangerous Class A drugs being seized, removing them from circulation and protecting people from harm.
“There is much work still to be done, but we believe this activity will significantly affect the ability of groups who seek to bring drugs into our communities.”
Over the past two years co-ordinated police activity against dealers has increased, in particular with a Surrey and Sussex Police intelligence team known as Operation Centurion, which works with the Metropolitan Police’s Op Orochi team to target and prosecute offenders involved in drugs activity between the capital, Surrey and Sussex. In the 18 months since the team’s inception, they contributed to more than 150 lines being disrupted, and to arrests of more than 260 individuals across both counties.
The work of Centurion’s specialist teams includes analysis from mobile phones used by dealers to buy and sell class-A drugs. This information is critical to investigators, helping them target the most significant members of organised crime groups and ensuring longer term disruption.
Ch Supt Woolford added: “County lines and other methods of drug dealing continue to be a threat across Sussex and in many other force areas, but we are making inroads as these results demonstrate.
“We are grateful for the support of our colleagues elsewhere in the country and will continue to work closely with other forces to crack down on this dangerous and criminal behaviour.”
Detective Chief Inspector Dan Mitchell, from the Met Police’s Operation Orochi team, said: “We have been working hand in glove with Sussex Police in order to investigate county lines drug dealers operating out of London into more rural areas. Our work so far has led to this joint activity made up of 80 Met Police officers involved in the effort.
“Our collaboration with Sussex has resulted in 18 dangerous individuals being arrested for serious offences and we will continue to work together in order to bear down on drug dealing and the violence is causes.
“Since Operation Orochi launched in November 2019 we have arrested more than 1,600 county line holders and safeguarded more than 600 individuals. County lines causes devastation and we are working harder than ever to keep all communities safe.”
You can help. The best advice is to trust your instincts – if somebody shows signs of mistreatment, or a child seems to be travelling long distances or is unfamiliar with a locality, you can report suspicions to local police on 101 or online or to British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 if you see something on the railway network.
There are also many sources of further advice and assistance to help combat the harm caused by drugs. Safe Space Sussex takes you to all the local organisations who provide support for those affected by drugs misuse.