Prime Minister Boris Johnson has visited Liverpool for the first time since his election win in 2019 to detail the government’s strategy to tackle drug crime and County Lines trafficking.
He joined Merseyside officers on a County Lines drugs raid on Monday morning.
Merseyside Police raided two addresses in Anfield and Kirkdale.
They arrested two people following an investigation into County Lines drug dealing from Lancashire.
A 34-year-old woman from Anfield and a 27-year-old man from Norris Green were arrested.
Officers also arrested a man acting suspiciously in Lime Street on Monday. He was found with £1,300 in cash.
‘Hugely damaging for our communities’
The Prime Minister said: “We’re putting a lot more investment into tackling the 300,000 problem drugs users who drive about half of the acquisitive crime and about half of the homicides in this country.”
The new strategy will include £780 million in funding for the drug treatment system in England.
This includes £300m to tackle County Lines gangs, with the overall aim of closing more than 2,000 county lines by 2024/25.
Detective Inspector Gary Stratton said: “Organised crime is hugely damaging to our communities, often involving intimidation, violence and creating fear and it is these criminals who run County Lines.”
£150m of the County Lines Programme will target the road and rail networks used by gangs as well as carrying out 6,400 disruptive activities against organised criminals.
Merseyside Police are operating Project Medusa, a Merseyside-led initiative with the aim of tackling County Lines drug dealing and child criminal exploitation.
So far, this has led to more than 1200 arrests and £1.4 million cash seized.
Detective Inspector Gary Stratton added: “Project Medusa is dedicated to cutting these County Lines dead and taking those who operate them off our streets and working with partners to help those who may be exploited by these gangs.”
Earlier this year, Project Medusa led to the arrest of 41 people involved in County Lines drug gangs.
In May, officers cleaned-up 150 cannabis plants, 12kg of amphetamine and 300 wraps of heroin. alongside recovering two firearms and ammunition.
Vulnerability and tackling organised crime was included by the Merseyside Chief Constable, Serena Kennedy, as priorities for the force going forward.
The blight of County Lines
According to the National Crime Agency, County Lines gangs commonly feature child exploitation and the exploitation of younger people.
The dealers will target children to act as drug runners or move cash in order to fly under the radar of law enforcement.
Often these people struggle with mental health problems.
The Prime Minister added: “We’re ramping up our campaign against the County Lines networks that are preying on these users.
“You’ve got to come down hard on the gangsters who are making hell of people’s lives. We want everybody to grow up in safer streets, everybody to have the right to have a safe community to grow up in.
“Too many people have their lives blighted by these county lines gangs.”
Read more how to spot the signs of exploitation linked to drug dealing and the Eyes Open campaign, introduced by Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership.