Police have cracked down on organised crime gangs who exploit victims of modern slavery, in a series of raids.
Fifteen properties across Greater Manchester were targeted, with 17 people arrested.
Police have seized more than £7,000 worth of Class A Drugs, along with ‘pool’ cars (vehicles used to distribute drugs), and more than £110,000 in cash.
Twenty-six victims, including children as young as two-years-old, have been referred for safeguarding. This comes after a National Week of Action to help tackle County Lines related crime.
These vulnerable people have been forced to move or store drugs, drug money and weapons through cohesion and intimidation.
Detective Inspector Julie Adams, from GMP’s Public Protection Serious Crime Division, said: “The results from this week of action speak volumes, and highlight our commitment to tackling organised crime, and protecting the most vulnerable members of our society.
“Our message is clear; while exploitation of children and vulnerable adults is taking place, we will be coming after you.”
DI Adams claimed that many of the children and vulnerable adults who have been coerced into running drug lines feel they have no way out of it. She also encouraged everyone to know what signs to look out for in victims, and report any suspicions.
Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, added: “Criminal exploitation is an abhorrent offence, and these arrests are an example of how we are committed to clamping down on those who manipulate children and vulnerable adults across Greater Manchester.
“Those subjected to these crimes are reminded that help is out there and to access the available victim support on offer. Greater Manchester continues to ensure children do not fall into the hands of these criminal gangs. I urge anybody who spots the signs of exploitation to report it immediately.”
We all have a responsibility to protect young and vulnerable members of our community, so anyone with any concerns should dial 101, or make an anonymous report to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via https://crimestoppers-uk.org/