POLICE issued two arrest warrants against a county line operating in Braintree as part of a week-long drug crackdown across the county.

Officers from Essex Police’s serious violence unit have made 20 arrests and seized more than £7,000 in suspected criminal profits, alongside large quantities of Class A drugs.

On October 12, warrants were issued in Romford and Kent as part of action against a county line operating in Braintree.

The drug line phone, a large amount of uncut cocaine and heroin and around £2,500 in cash were seized.

A man was arrested and later charged with being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and possession of criminal property.

It was part of a week-long drug crackdown focused on targeting county lines gangs and protecting the vulnerable across the county.

Arrests were made across the county as officers executed targeted warrants at addresses linked to county lines activity, often acting in direct response to concerns raised by residents about drug activity and anti-social behaviour.

Warrants were executed at addresses in Southend, Basildon, Harlow and Chelmsford.

Arrests were also made by officers out on patrol.

On October 11, officers with the Essex Police’s Operation Raptor North team stopped a vehicle in Clacton.

A woman was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and heroin, driving without a license and without insurance.

Overall, in Essex, 20 people were arrested and 11 have subsequently been charged and will appear in court.

As well as enforcement, police also worked to prevent vulnerable people from becoming involved in drugs and the crimes associated with drugs.

Across the week, officers safeguarded 20 people, including a pregnant woman identified as at risk of harm.

A visit was also arranged for a 14-year-old boy deemed at high risk of criminal exploitation, as well as a 22-year-old man with county line connections who is a previous victim of a drug-related stabbing.

Detective Chief Inspector Neal Miller, of the force’s Serious Violence Unit, said: “We have a two-stranded, persistent approach to tackling drug dealing and associated violence and anti-social behaviour in Essex.

“One strand is enforcement. This work continues every day, consisting of the unseen intelligence work to identify active county lines, and a proactive visible policing presence aimed at stopping drug dealers in the act.

“This work intensified during the week, with warrants executed at key addresses across the county and suspects brought into custody, significantly disrupting the illicit operations of several active gangs.

“On the enforcement side, these intensification weeks are about showing those at the top of the chain – those who believe they are above the law – they are never free to operate with impunity in Essex.

“I’ve always been extremely clear, if you choose to sell harmful substances on the streets of our county, it is a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ you are caught.”

DCI Miller continued: “The second strand of our work recognises that we need a whole-system approach to end the violence and devastation caused by county line activity.

“We cannot just arrest and charge our way out of this.

“Our teams recognise we need to work closely with our partners in social care, education and especially with our Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit to get the preventative steps in place to steer people away from a life of drug-related crime.

“County line gangs thrive on exploiting the vulnerable. It is vital we treat those who have been exploited as victims and seek to connect them with the support services which are readily available and willing to help.”