Dozens arrested during drugs raids by South West police

Three missing children have been found and dozens of vulnerable adults have got their homes back after a police operation to tackle drug crime.

Operation Scorpion involved police forces from across the west of England.

In Wiltshire alone more than 30 people were arrested and £24,000 in cash, two guns, and cocaine and heroin worth £36,000 was seized.

Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson called the gangs’ actions towards vulnerable people “despicable”.

The overall operation involved forces from Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Gloucestershire.

Officers in Wiltshire found three children being used to run drugs in county lines gangs, who were missing from their homes and who have now been taken into care.

“That is just horrendous, to think these gangs have been exploiting, using young people to run drugs, that is truly truly shocking,” Mr Wilkinson added.

“What sort of despicable person does that?”

He added that drugs are a “blight” on communities.

The force also discovered 79 victims of ‘cuckooing’ – where drug gangs take over the homes of vulnerable people.

Det Supt Charlotte Tucker, from Wiltshire Police, said cuckooing was part of the business model of the drug gangs, as it can help them to avoid suspicion.

“Vulnerable people’s properties and their lives get taken over by this offending, whilst having to make money for criminals,” she said.

“Safeguarding these vulnerable people is our priority, along with protecting all in our communities.”

Det Supt Tucker urged the public to help report any suspected cases of cuckooing.

“We can go and check and test to see that people aren’t living in fear in their own houses,” she said.

“If the public do see that in their neighbourhoods and see that perhaps in a block of flats they live in, see someone who has visitors that are constantly there and perhaps they think they don’t want to be there, we are really keen to hear from those people.”

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Written by C.L Martin

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