London drug gangs dealing crack cocaine and heroin are using children as mules in Suffolk

Police officers in Suffolk's dedicated drugs team carry out a raid. Picture: Gregg Brown

Police officers in Suffolk's dedicated drugs team carry out a raid. Picture: Gregg Brown - Credit: Staff

Organised drug networks are increasingly infiltrating rural and coastal towns in Suffolk, a new police report warns.

It has been drafted after concerns over drugs were repeatedly raised by people at a series of public meetings chaired by police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore.

The Suffolk police report names 'county lines' gangs – London-based dealers who have a market in coastal and rural towns – as a key threat to the county.

It says they use acid, knives, hammers and boiling water as weapons, and reveals vulnerable people – including children – in towns like Felixstowe, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft are exploited by Class A drug dealers.

The report also appears to link the problem with the recent spike in violent crime in Suffolk.

'After seeing the report I am reassured that the constabulary is doing everything in their power to deal with this problem,' said Mr Passmore.

'It is being confronted with the help of national policing agencies too, and I would like to reassure the public that everything possible is being done.

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'It is the case that between September and December 2016 last year there were 11 extra serious violent crimes directly linked to drug gangs.

'This fact is disturbing in itself but what is most disturbing is that Operation Volcanic, which deals with London gangs in Ipswich, and I would go as far to describe this as sinister, there have been 11 recent cases of children being used as drug mules, many of them who have grown up in care and originate from London boroughs.

'That fact is so sinister and horrific.

'I have told the constabulary that we can fund extra resources to deal with this if needed.'

Operation Volcanic is one of three operations – including London and Boulevard – currently in place to tackle the issue in Suffolk.

'A dedicated county-wide drugs team, which focuses on dismantling gangs dealing crack cocaine and heroin, also operates from Ipswich.'

Chief Inspector Simon Mills, of Suffolk police, moved to reassure the public.

He said: 'People should not be unduly worried. We will continue to robustly enforce the law in Ipswich, and Suffolk as well, and look to dismantle criminal networks.'

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