Thirty-three arrests were made and more than £20,000 cash recovered as part of an operation targeting the supply of class A drugs in Kent.
Seven weapons were also seized and 57 charges authorised during the national county lines intensification week, which ran from 7-11 March 2022.
Ten such lines were dismantled in Kent during the week of action, which was led by Detective Inspector Lisa Featherstone of the County Lines and Gangs Team.
Arrested and charged
A county line is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal substances into other counties, using dedicated mobile phone lines to sell their products. They often exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store their drugs and money, often with the use of intimidation, violence and weapons.
Activity carried out during the operation included:
• Around £34,000 worth of class A drugs and £10,000 cash was seized following a warrant in Romford, Essex, linked to a county line operating in Medway. Michael Mamattah, 24, was arrested and charged with drug supply offences.
• A warrant was carried out in Gillingham, where officers recovered crack cocaine and heroin worth an estimated £3,000, a mobile phone and £1,200 cash. Devonttee Williams, 20, of Cleve Way in Billingshurst, West Sussex, and Charlotte Gregory, 31, of Bayeaux Gardens, were both arrested and later charged with class A drug supply offences.
• Harrison Ahmet, 22, of Bedwell Road in Belvedere, London, was arrested and charged with class A drug offences following a warrant at his home address as part of an investigation into a county line operating in Ashford. Officers seized a mobile phone linked to the line along with around £4,000 worth of illegal substances.
• Officers investigating a line operating in the Folkestone district arrested Harry Jones, 27, after spotting him in the Canterbury Road area of the town. A subsequent search of his home address in Lennard Road resulted in officers seizing 100 wraps of class A drugs and £1,200 cash. He was later charged with drug supply offences.
• Two men were arrested at a property in Margate after officers carried out a welfare check on a vulnerable man who lived there. A total of around £3,000 cash was seized along with three knives. Both men were later released pending further enquiries.
• Deividas Sakalauskas, 21, of Leybourne Road, Rochester, was charged with class A drug supply offences following a warrant in Stone, near Dartford, where around £2,000 worth of cocaine and a mobile phone were located.
Body-worn video footage of a warrant carried out at an address in Medway.
In addition to the enforcement activity, a large amount of safeguarding and engagement work was also carried out across the week in order to identify those at risk of being exploited by others. This included staff training sessions with local housing providers, identifying education and employment opportunities for arrested suspects believed to be victims of exploitation, and arranging talks with schools.
Detective Chief Inspector Matthew Talboys of Kent Police’s County Lines and Gangs Team said:
‘Class A drugs like cocaine and heroin ruin people’s lives and result in serious violence within communities that we simply do not tolerate here in Kent.
‘Whilst I am delighted with the results of this most recent national operation, it is important to point out that dismantling county lines and bringing those responsible to justice is something my officers do every day of the year. We are relentless in our pursuit of those who exploit vulnerable people for their own financial gain, and I hope these latest arrests and charges send a very clear message to drug suppliers that they are not welcome here in our county.
‘I also want to make it clear to those young people being coerced into transporting drugs into Kent that it is not too late to turn your life around. Working with our partners in education and social services, we can provide you with an alternative route that does not involve you being put at risk by criminals who do not care about your safety as long as they continue to make money.
‘We in the County Lines and Gangs Team will continue to target those who exploit the most vulnerable members of society for their own financial gain, and make it very clear that Kent is a no-go area for those who wish to sell class A drugs.’