POLICE officers in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire have seized dozens of weapons following a national crackdown on county lines drug dealing gangs.

West Mercia Police officers joined forces across the country to take part in a week-long crackdown on county lines criminal activity.

During the intensification period, 68 weapons including knives, knuckle dusters and air weapons were seized, along with Class A drugs to a street value of around £6,500 and 19 arrests made across Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

Cash, five mobile phones and two vehicles also seized during the simultaneous warrants across West Mercia’s counties.

Officers visited ‘cuckooed’ homes believed to be being exploited by drug dealers. They identified and safeguarded 11 vulnerable people at risk of being exploited, and also engaged in education activity with fast food outlets, care homes, schools, local authorities, petrol stations and travel hubs across the counties.

Chief Superintendent Damian Barratt said: “West Mercia Police is no different to any other Police Force across the country where county lines drug dealers are exploiting vulnerable children, young people and adults.

“Organised crime groups are targeting our local communities and exploiting vulnerable people to transport drugs into our counties.

“These groups are often involved in serious violence and do not think twice about putting vulnerable people in frightening situations, causing them to make decisions that can ultimately change their lives and the lives of others forever. We are determined to do all we can to stop this from happening.

“The consequences are far and wide and cause a ripple effect during the intensification week a vehicle inadvertently collided with an elderly couple in Shropshire, luckily the couple was not hurt, and the vehicle seized and man was arrested.

“We’re committed to tackling serious and organised crime as part of our ‘Protect’ campaign. No matter what the circumstances, our officers are here 24/7 365 days a year to protect people from harm.”