Published: 13:25, 15 September 2020
| Updated: 13:28, 15 September 2020
County lines drug dealers have been posing as delivery drivers during lockdown in a bid to continue sending narcotics to Kent , police chiefs have revealed.
Detectives say the criminals were forced to transport Class A substances in cars and on motorbikes in order to evade detection.
The move was made after the government imposed strict coronavirus restrictions in March as officers were able to spot drug runners with greater ease on sparsely populated trains.
Speaking this morning, Det Supt Michael Worral explained: “From a Kent perspective, we did notice they used the pandemic to their advantage by wearing face masks or portraying themselves as delivery drivers.
“There were a few occasions where they wore tabards. It shows how adept they are at changing to the circumstances they find themselves in.
“But we adapted equally quickly and we were able to identify them very quickly.”
Officers across Kent have managed to break 15 county lines drugs operations since July.
And since the beginning of April, Det Supt Worral said they have made 164 arrests, seized £150,000 in cash and removed 52 weapons from the county’s streets.
The senior officer was talking at a press briefing today, during which he and a colleague from the Metropolitan Police detailed how several months of investigations led to the conviction of drugs boss Jack Harmon .
“He was sentenced to 51 months, despite having no previous convictions,” Det Supt Worral said.
“The impact of the closure of this line has resulted in a decline in violence, especially knife-related violence in both Chatham and Sheerness.”
"If anyone thinks they can come into Kent and supply Class A drugs, we will identify you and put you into prison..."
Detectives analysed the 24-year-old’s phone usage between August and November last year, as he racked up 11,000 texts and more than 10,000 calls.
In February, he was arrested for an unrelated matter and was later transferred to Kent, where he was charged with two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
“Over the weekend, we removed three really high-quality county lines from Kent,” Det Supt Worral added.
“They cause misery to the streets of London and Kent, and my message is clear: if anyone thinks they can come into Kent and supply Class A drugs, we will identify you and put you into prison.”