We’ve sent text messages to the numbers of more than 2,000 customers found on a County Lines drugs phone – urging them to seek addiction help and stressing they are fuelling the exploitation of children.
The phone was seized as part of an investigation into a drugs network that’s supplying up to £3,000 worth of cocaine a day across Birmingham and into Worcestershire.
We’ve charged four men with drugs supply and they are on remand in prison awaiting trial.
Analysis of the dealer hotline revealed the mobile numbers of more than 2,000 contacts who were receiving SMS marketing updates from the drugs line.
One of those numbers was traced to a healthcare worker, another to a man working in hospitality, and it’s suspected many more customers will be middle class professionals with ‘social’ cocaine habits.
Yesterday (Feb 2) they received warning messages telling them their phone numbers have been identified as part of a drugs supply investigation.
The message we’ve sent to contacts found on a County Lines drugs phone
It reads: “This is a message from the Regional Organised Crime Unit for the West Midlands region County Lines Taskforce, Operation Index. We have sent you this message as your phone number has been in contact with a known County Lines drug line, which is being targeted by police.
“If you require any further information then please visit (web address). The site will also provide contact details of support organisations who can provide help and support if you have an addiction or believe you are being exploited.”
Our County Lines Taskforce was fully launched last June and since then the team has shut down 169 lines and are actively investigating hundreds more.
Detective Inspector Dan Rooks runs the taskforce. He said: “Forensic analysis of the line – known as the Razor Line – shows the marketing messages being issued are appealing to the middle classes that use cocaine socially as well as those who have addictions.
“Intelligence suggests vulnerable people are being exploited and groomed to carry out drug dealing on behalf of the line. They are taking all the risks and their exploiters are making big profits.
“We want drug users to know their cocaine habit is directly leading to the abuse of children and to urge them to take action to address their addictions.
“We’ve arrested one user already and will be paying some of these others a visit over the coming weeks. They need to understand that if they are fuelling County Lines drug dealing they also risk arrest.”
We seized this shotgun during a raid on the County Line.
The phone was seized from a 31-year-old Solihull man on 25 November last year after officers stopped a car in the Small Heath area.
Warrants followed at addresses in Erdington, Acocks Green and Oldbury on 8 December where two men were arrested and drugs plus a gun and ammunition recovered.
The firearm – a 12 Gauge self-loading shotgun – was found to have been stolen during a burglary of a weapons shop in Nottinghamshire.
Men aged 24, 31, 33 and 35 have so far been charged with possessing drugs with intent to supply.
If you suspect a child or vulnerable person is being exploited to run drugs then please get in touch. You can message your local Police Force on Live Chat via their website or call 101.