County Lines: Project launched to tackle drugs gangs

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A syringe and cooked heroin on a spoonImage source, Getty Images

A campaign to tackle drug gangs exploiting young and vulnerable people through "County Lines" in north Wales has been launched.

Gangs from cities such as London, Liverpool and Manchester have established bases in Welsh towns, using locals to sell drugs on their behalf.

North Wales Police said young people were being "coerced, groomed and threatened" by criminals.

It is now running an awareness campaign to safeguard children.

Media caption,

What is "county lines"?

County Lines is a term used for organised drug dealing networks, usually controlled by a person in an urban location, who distributes drugs across a county via runners.

It has caused problems in north Wales in recent years, with the murder of 19-year-old Matthew Cassidy in Connah's Quay in Flintshire and the jailing of a Wrexham gang in October.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said: "They exploit children and young people by coercing them into running Class A drugs, cash or weapons, not just here in north Wales but across the UK.

"Getting to grips with this growing menace is one of my top priorities."

The campaign will be run jointly with charity Crimestoppers, which said victims are "often too young and too troubled to be able to realise what is happening to them".

Gary Murray, the regional manager for the charity in the north west, said: "These criminal gangs don't care what damage they do to young people, their interest is making profit from their criminal activity.

"This really is the face of modern slavery."