Almost 60 arrests and £18,000 of drugs seized by operation targeting county drugs lines Image: iStock

Operation Nola set up to disrupt dealers running drugs supply lines

Nearly 60 people have been arrested and £18,000 worth of drugs taken off the streets by a dedicated operation targeting county lines in Bedfordshire.

Operation Nola was established 12 months ago to disrupt dealers running drugs supply lines into Bedfordshire from other areas.

Since it was set up the team has:

  • Made 57 arrests
  • Carried out 35 warrants and searches
  • Seized Class A drugs worth £13,570 and Class B drugs worth £4,100
  • Seized multiple weapons including machetes, meat cleavers, axes, hunting knives, zombie knives, hammers, a police style baton, kitchen knives, flick knives and a sword

County lines is the term given to a drug dealing model whereby dealers from one area use a phone to run a drugs supply network into another location. While this has traditionally been from larger cities to more rural areas, the definition now includes all drug lines being run into other areas, such as a Luton gang running a line into Bedford.

These gangs will often traffick vulnerable children into these areas and force them to sell drugs, exploiting them and threatening them with violence.

These same gangs also take advantage of vulnerable adults, taking over their home and using it as a base for drug dealing.

This practice is known as cuckooing. It typically sees gangs target drugs addicts, those with other substance abuse issues, as well as those with poor mental health.

Part of a Bedfordshire Police campaign to raise awareness on how children can be exploited by organised crime

County lines is just one type of crime the force will be highlighting over the coming weeks, as part of a campaign to raise awareness around how children might be exploited by organised crime.

Operation Nola’s work focusses on lines coming into Bedfordshire from other areas. The force’s Boson teams target county lines run by Bedfordshire gangs into other areas.

Detective Inspector Dani Bailey, who oversees Operation Nola, said:

“This shows the enormous impact that Operation Nola has had in its first year in operation.

“This team has massively improved our understanding of and intelligence around county lines coming into Bedfordshire.

“Their hard work has also locked up a number of serious drug dealers, as well as safeguarding a number of people who were being exploited by organised crime.”

This year Operation Nola’s work has led to the sentencing of three county lines dealers.

In April, Esa Wabasemba, 20, of West Hill, London, was sentenced to three years in a young offender institute after Operation Nola built a case proving his involvement in the Nino county line.

In May, officers working on the operation carried out a warrant in Bedford targeting the Marlow line run by Dale Williams, 30, of Wigston, Leicestershire.

Williams pleaded guilty to drugs supply offences and the next month was jailed for four years.

Also in June, Abdirizak Alassow, 21, of Pemdevon Road, Croydon, was jailed after another complex investigation by Operation Nola proved his role masterminding the Nino line.

He received a prison sentence of four-and-a-half years.

When the Operation Nola team carried out a warrant in Bedford in January, they were also able to safeguard a teenage boy from London who was found at the address.

PC James West said:

“The team’s work has had a major impact on the supply of drugs in Bedfordshire.

“We will continue to make our county a hostile place for anyone looking to run drugs lines into our communities or exploit vulnerable people to further their criminal enterprise.”

Anyone with information about drug activity can contact police on 101. Or they can use the online reporting centre on the Bedfordshire Police website.

All these reports are fed into police intelligence systems and can help officers build up a picture of organised crime in the county.

People can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.