County Lines & Gang Led Child Drug Trafficking
In American law enforcement, criminals often try and evade capture by crossing ‘county lines‘ and escaping the jurisdiction of the sheriff. The term has been borrowed by the UK city-based gang networks to refer to the extension of drug operations into smaller towns, rural and coastal areas.
County lines, which may also refer to the single phone connection between drug dealers and their mules, is a growing concern both for the communities living in the target destinations and the predominately young drugs carriers being put at risk and sucked into a whirlpool of crime and violence.
As well as reinforcing local drugs problems, county lines also leads to violence as city gangs clash with each other and with local drug dealers.
The Vicious Circle of County Lines Operations
County lines is deeply ingrained into the fabric of the street gang way of life. It begins with the grooming of ‘youngers’ (YGs) by ‘olders’ (OGs). These are usually young teens but could even be primary age children. They are usually lured away from their families with promises of money, sex, expensive clothes and jewellery. They will often meet established gang members after school and during holidays or may play truant.
Many youths from deprived area see drug dealing as the only way of making a life for themselves and escaping the neighbourhood.
Once they have committed themselves to the gang way of life, the youths may be taken away for a number of days or even weeks as they are prepared for going ‘OT’ (out there). They are taught how to store drugs on their bodies to avoid detection and supplied with a ‘burner,’ a disposable mobile phone for drug dealing.
Although cannabis and amphetamines are sometimes dealt, county lines usually focuses on the supply of Class A drugs such as crack and heroin. These are sometimes mixed together in ‘packs’, each with a street value of between £10 and £50.
After they return to their city gang masters, the YGs will usually receive a cut of the proceeds or other rewards. Should they fail to return with the Ps (money) they will be put into debt bondage and are likely to be beaten up or worse.
Once they have become established in the trade, the young drug dealers will groom their own crop of youngers and step back out of the firing line. With a constant supply of new faces coming into the target areas, it can be difficult for the local police forces to collect intelligence, especially where communication with metropolitan police forces is lacking.
Below are some comments made by staff and students from London South East Colleges after the workshop re: feedback forms.
Name one thing that has stood out to you/impacted you about today’s presentation:
“Captivating and relevant, he managed to keep the students interested” Jenna Staff member
“2020 Dreams delivered a really powerful workshop that engaged our young people and enabled them to understand to trappings of gang culture and knife crime. The delivery was a moving and emotional personal story was really hard-hitting and he had a very dramatic and charismatic delivery” Karina, Staff Member
“That no matter who you are or how you dress they can still approach you”
“How easy it is to get trapped”
“Stay safe by not joining gangs”
“How to get out of gangs”
“I didn’t know that some people would go to uni just to sell drugs”
“A very powerful story a lot of people need to hear it”
“His life story about his family and friends”
“Never be easy influenced”
“What stood out to me the most is how easy it can be to lose track”
“People can get pulled into doing something that could potentially ruin their career path, goals or achievement”
“Don’t be influenced by the bad lifestyle”
“The story about Delroy”
“Live life as much as possible”
“Not to follow people who take their path to a wrong level”
“It made me laugh and kept my interest”
“Crime can impact someone’s life”
“The story in prison”
“Interesting story and presentation”
“Consequences and don’t take life for granted”
“Crime is bad”
“A story about a friend”
“Not to take life for granted”
“That you need to avoid strangers and don’t take anything from random people”
“I just didn’t know a person can lose houses because of gangs”
“People getting taken off the streets to sell drugs”“It can be anyone. The most inconspicuous person could approach you and reel you in”
“Being more careful outside, Don’t hang around strangers who are older than you, be careful with talking with older people”
“Knife and gang crime is everywhere”
“Anyone can approach you”
“The effect of gang crime and how serious it is.“
“It’s real life issues”
“Couldn’t pick one thing, I would say everything what Steve said impacted me in the presentation.”
“Many more younger people die more than older people”
“About how to be wise when approached by someone is not friendly, and Don’t give up on your dreams”
To conclude we feel the workshop was an overall success and had an impact on the students who participated so thank you for providing such a powerful workshop.
Cuckooing: Exploiting the Vulnerable
In order to carry out their drug deals, young gang members need a place to operate from. After travelling OT by public transport, they will often exploit local drug addicts, referred to as ‘nitties,’ by supplying small amounts of drugs in return for accommodation. People with learning difficulties are also prime targets and may even be followed home and ‘cuckooed.’ Once inside, the young gang member might also set up a prostitution ring and exploit local girls and women.
What Happens in a 2020 Dreams County Lines Workshop?
2020 Dreams County Lines Workshops are designed to both raise awareness of the presence of this growing form of criminal activity and to help children and teens to build up resilience against the traffickers.
Our age-appropriate workshops introduce these sensitive themes using proven techniques of engagement. These include role-playing exercises and open forum debates.
Young people attending a workshop will also receive information about how to get help with escaping from gangs.
As experienced national workshop providers, you can be sure that all sessions will be fully risk-assessed and professionally run by our skilled and sensitive moderators.
To find out more details about workshop content or to make a booking, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0800 4714983.
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