27 August 2019
UP TO 17 organised crime gangs are operating across Wiltshire.
Gangsters linked to one of the groups were said to have been involved in less than one per cent of all crimes recorded by Wiltshire Police last year.
But the force warned that County Lines drug networks are on the rise. The gangs are led by kingpins in cities like London and Birmingham, with lieutenants increasingly turning to local children and addicts to peddle their product. A national problem, the County Lines gangs have taken over much of the heroin and crack cocaine trade in towns like Swindon and Trowbridge.
The increase was detailed in Wiltshire Police's Force Management Statement, published yesterday,. A spokeswoman for the force said: “Together with our partner agencies across Swindon and Wiltshire, we work hard to identify where County Lines are exploiting vulnerable children and adults, to proactively disrupt these networks and to safeguard and protect those at risk of harm. The intelligence we receive from people in all of our communities is crucial in helping us, our partner agencies and neighbouring forces tackle this.
He told the Adver: “These rappers will try and portray it as a glamourous lifestyle, but the reality is that if you decide to run that music career alongside criminal activity there’s only going to be one out come. That’s prison and a criminal record – a burden that you will carry for the rest of your life.”
Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner, called for extra funding to tackle the challenge posed by organised crime gangs.
He said: "Although I welcome the Prime Minister’s promise of 20,000 new police officers, it's unclear what this will look like for Wiltshire so we have to continue to work with what we have.
“I am, however, positive that we will get more officers although how they are paid for remains a question which requires an answer for which I will continue to push.
"My message to Westminster remains the same when it comes to money - we still don't receive enough funding from central government."
“Intelligence from the community is helping us identify more County Lines operating in Wiltshire which allows us to take positive action to disrupt them.”
Earlier this month, three men were jailed at Bristol Crown Court for their part in a conspiracy to smuggle almost a kilo of cocaine into Swindon with an estimated street value of £200,000. One of the leaders, London rapper Nahkell “J Avalanche” Gordon, had links with Tottenham gang the Wood Green Mob.
At around the same time as he was said to have arranged for the drugs to be transported from London to the south west, Gordon had also set up the transfer of a pistol and ammunition from the capital to Manchester – with the deadly weapon taken by an unsuspecting Uber driver.
Following that case, senior investigating officer Det Insp Mark Wilkinson said there was nothing glamorous about the life of a County Lines dealer.