THIS is the dramatic moment cops smashed their way into a suspected drugs den and dragged out a suspected county lines kingpin in front of Priti Patel today.
The Home Secretary joined police on dawn raids as they targeted a gang peddling drugs from London to West Sussex – and warned mob bosses: “We’re coming after you.”
HOAR joined the Home Secretary on the pre-dawn raid this morning as police forced their way into his property in Brixton.
Images from showed at least a dozen cops piling into the flat after the door to the building was smashed with a battering ram.
Two cops flanked the suspect as they dragged him out of the building in handcuffs before he was stuffed into the back of a police van.
The man, who was living with his mum and girlfriend, has been taken to a Sussex police station for questioning.
Ms Patel said this morning’s raid was an example of how police are targeting the “head of the snake” in the fight against county lines.
Graham McNulty, deputy assistant commissioner and the national police lead on county lines, said this tactic of targeting the criminals at the top of the network is ensuring new county lines don’t reopen.
And the Home Secretary said she would continue to back the police with the funding they need to go after these individuals until the county lines are rolled up.
She said: “These county lines are spreading drugs, they’re spreading violence across our towns, our cities and also with young people being involved that’s completely unacceptable.”
More than 2,600 people have been arrested since the Ms Patel announced a £25million cash injection to tackle county lines – triple the amount of funding to close down the networks in November last year.
In London alone that has enabled 64 police officers being able to work solely on county lines operations.
Speaking to HOAR this morning, Ms Patel said: “Raids like this are the bread and butter in terms of targeting the head of the snake, the individuals that are running county lines, peddling drugs across the country.
“As we have seen today through the intensification work that has taken place here with the police force here in London working with other county forces as well are absolutely targeting these ruthless criminals who are quite frankly causing so much harm across the country.
“This has been my focus over the last 12 months”
She added: “I said this time last year we invested resources and I’ve more than tripled the financial support now when it comes to targeting county lines work and that has resulted in the intensification of forces across the country working together.
“That battle has led to over 2,6000 arrests, 3,000 individuals have been safeguarded, weapons have been taken off our street, cash and drugs being taken off our street.
The county line targeted this morning sold Class A drugs including crack cocaine and heroin from London to Horsham in West Sussex.
Mr McNulty said closing down county lines was vital because they are the root cause of a lot more wider crime in communities.
He said the line holders deliberately step back from the handling of drugs while profiting from young adults and even children as young as 7 who put themselves in danger.
He said that until last year’s extra investment police forces lacked the focus they needed to identify the individuals of the networks.
He said: “But I believe now since November we are really identifying these individuals and they are the people in the shadows who are responsible for the misery and mayhem that comes from county lines.
“County lines is a real focus for us because of the violence that we have seen that comes from it – the turf wars that come from different drugs markets.
“If we can take out the distribution model we can bring the violence down.”
This morning was Ms Patel’s fourth raid since she became Home Secretary in July 2019 and she told HOAR that closing down county lines drugs was her top priority.
And in a message to other leaders of county line drug gangs, Ms Patel said: “My message is clear: we’re coming after you.
“If you’re an individual spreading this violence, this dangerous practice of trafficking, selling drugs, we’re absolutely coming after you, we’re coming after your associates, we’re coming after your gangs.”
In March it was revealed that police had made 650 arrests and seized cash and drugs worth more than £3million in the raids.
Between last November and March, more than 100 weapons, including guns, were found in a massive county lines crackdown.
And 139 supply lines, linked to phone numbers dialled by users to buy drugs, were shut down.
The operations — which identified 140 children in the drugs trade — were carried out by British Transport Police and the Met, Merseyside and West Midlands forces as part of an effort to smash organised crime groups.
In March, the Home Secretary said: “I’m determined to stop county lines drugs gangs from terrorising our towns and exploiting our children.
“I have seen first-hand the important work the police are doing to tackle county lines, and these impressive results show just how much of an impact our investment is having.”