Officers from Merseyside carried out an operation with Cheshire Constabulary yesterday (Monday 25 January) in a bid to continue the crackdown on County Lines Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) responsible for cross border drugs supply and the criminal exploitation of young and vulnerable people.
Project Medusa is a Merseyside-led initiative and officers have today targeted drugs supply within the Liverpool, Wirral, North Wales and Warrington areas.
As part of this initiative, officers issued a warrant at an address in West Derby and recovered a loaded firearm and a significant quantity of Class A drugs. Four men aged 51, 35, 29 and 23 and two women aged 51 and 32 were arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs, being concerned in the offer to supply controlled drugs and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. They have been released pending further enquiries.
During the day of action, 15 people were arrested for a number of offences, 12 adults and three children were safeguarded, including a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old who were identified as missing and were safely returned to their homes. Officers conducted a total of 41 stop searches and seized 14 vehicles, as well as issuing 57 traffic offence reports.
As part of the disruption activity officers arrested a 56-year-old man on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs, and firearms offences. A significant amount of class A drugs and shotgun cartridges were recovered during the search of an address in the Vauxhall area of Liverpool.
Chief Inspector Sarah Jones, said: "These County Lines organised crime groups are responsible for the widespread distribution of illegal drugs in other parts of the country, including Cheshire.
"The force’s Project Medusa, which consists of different types of operational activity, continues to use a variety of tactics to effectively disrupt and in turn bring down these OCGs.
"While our work hits the criminals hard, we are committed to protecting vulnerable members of society who may fall prey to organised crime gangs.
“The activity comes on the back of the work we’re carrying out day in, day out to arrest those involved in this type of criminality and shut down County Lines.
“Those suspected of being involved blight the communities they deal drugs in and it’s a sad fact that they target vulnerable people to do their dirty work on the ground, often coercing them with gifts and more often than not, violence."
Chief Superintendent Martin Cleworth from Cheshire Constabulary said: “The operation between Cheshire and Merseyside highlights how hard-hitting the police can be when working jointly to target those involved in county lines criminality.
“We know criminals travel into Warrington from Merseyside in order to deal drugs in our communities in order to make a profit. This operation was our opportunity to show we are one step ahead and ready to prevent them from doing so.
“We must not forget that organised crime gangs can prey on vulnerable adults and exploit, coerce and manipulate children to deliver and deal drugs on their behalf. We will not allow that to happen in our communities and we will continue to work hard to protect them and ensure Cheshire is a much safer place.”
Read more here about how to spot the signs and the Eyes Open campaign, introduced by Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/police-forces/merseyside-police/areas/campaigns/campaigns/2018/eyes-open/
You can also report any concerns to police on 999 if a crime is in progress, via 101, or our social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook 'Merseyside Police Contact Centre'.
You can also pass information via the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information.