More than 200 people have been arrested during a week-long crackdown on county lines gangs in London, police have revealed.
Officers also seized more than one million pounds worth of drugs, five guns, and a number of swords, including a Japanese-style katana, during the raids across the capital last week.
Alongside the arrests, 177 vulnerable people were safeguarded by police, several of them children who officers say were being “preyed on” by the drug gangs and “used as a commodity”.
“(These) networks traffick them and subject them to modern slavery involving horrendous emotional and physical abuse,” Detective Superintendent Rick Sewart, the lead responsible officer for county lines at Scotland Yard said.
“Victims are coerced through violence, blackmail and debt bondage, to hold and supply drugs.
“Those involved use weapons and serious violence including kidnaps to intimidate and threaten victims.”
Alongside children, the county lines networks preyed on vulnerable adults to fuel Class A drug addictions, DSI Sewart added.
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“Instead of criminalising these children, officers work with Rescue and Response to ensure they are safeguarded and supported,” the force said in a statement.
The week-long crackdown took place across Monday, 27 February and Sunday, March 5.
Police made a total of 222 arrests across the week, resulting in 105 people being charged with a total of 223 offences.
These include 150 drug trafficking charges and 131 charges relating to Class A and B drugs.
Officers also seized 8.3 kilograms of Class A drugs, 37.6 kilograms of Class B drugs, £652,214 in cash, five firearms and 51 weapons which included knives, machetes and swords.