Dexter the police dog with officers at Ryde Pier Head

Cannabis, suspected crack cocaine and heroin, a taser and sums of cash have all been seized in a police operation on the Isle of Wight.

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Hampshire Constabulary – along with other forces nationwide – has taken part in a national week of action led by the National Crime Agency.

Officers have executed warrants, stop searched, conducted safeguarding visits, and worked with local schools to raise awareness of this method of drug supply – known as ‘County Lines’.

Isle of Wight Radio joined officers on patrol at Ryde Pier Head during the operation – which saw Dexter the police dog.

Working proactively with partners at the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit and British Transport Police, officers have been targeting and disrupting those involved in ‘County Lines’ drug dealing.

County Lines is the name given to drug dealing which involves organised crime groups from urban centres expanding their drug dealing activity to smaller towns and rural areas. Dealers typically use a single phone line to facilitate the supply of drugs which becomes a valuable asset and is protected with violence and intimidation.

Officers carrying out a stop and search at Ryde Pier Head

Officers have also been at the Isle of Wight Ferry terminals with drugs dogs to check passengers travelling between the Isle of Wight and the mainland.

While Isle of Wight Radio joined the team, one person was stopped and searched by officers, before being let go.

Isle of Wight Radio’s Jamie White speaks to Police Sergeant Sam Warne:

The intense week of operational activity in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight was led by Superintendent Matthew Reeves. He said:

“This week of action has been hugely successful from our perspective. A number of officers and staff have come together to target county lines which present the greatest threat, risk and harm to our communities. This is work we continue as everyday business.

“County Lines isn’t isolated to large UK cities, this is a real issue which is affecting Hampshire along with other areas in the country.

“It’s not only the obviously vulnerable who are groomed for county lines. Young people from all backgrounds have been groomed for transporting and dealing drugs.

“This type of criminality needs a partnership approach, including our communities. I would urge anyone who is concerned about someone who may be involved in this activity to contact us or one of our partners.

“We continue to work with our colleagues in education, social care, transport networks and charities among others to tackle this issue in collaboration.”

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Southey, from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit, said:

“We are working hard, alongside partner agencies and our colleagues in Hampshire Constabulary to identify and target the most serious offenders in County Lines drugs supply gangs.

“Those involved in County Lines networks not only exploit the most vulnerable people in society, but their criminality has a wide and far-reaching effect across society.

“Drugs supply isn’t something we will tolerate in the south east, and we are determined to bring those involved to justice.”

In total on the Isle of Wight, the following were seized:

Isle of Wight
Four arrests
£4170 cash seized
120g cannabis seized
2g suspected heroin seized
1g suspected crack cocaine seized

Across the region, the following was seized:

Force wide results: 
35 arrests made (29 men and six women).
198 grams of suspected crack cocaine seized (street value approximately £12,700)
147 grams of suspected heroin seized (street value approximately £14,700)
187 grams cannabis seized (street value approximately £1,200)
Total drugs seized have an approximate street value of £28,600
£12,230 cash seized.
One suspected Taser and two knives seized.
One suspected Taser seized

Gangs sometimes use violence to threaten children and young people when recruiting them. Gangs also violently assault children and young people working for them if they find their drugs or money to be missing. Weapons such as firearms, knives, bats, acid are sometimes used to make violent threats.