Joint Surrey Police and Sussex Police team reaches milestone in tackling county lines drug dealing
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On Wednesday, 31 May, the team – known as Centurion – targeted a property in London believed to be linked to a number of drug supply channels across Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire.
During a search of the address, officers seized a large amount of heroin and crack cocaine, approximately £2,000 in cash and two people were arrested - with one later being charged and remanded.
Kaim Mpenga, 26, of Byron Road, Middlesex, was charged with five offences relating to the supply and intent to supply Class A drugs, and the possession of criminal property.
The Centurion team lead the Surrey Police and Sussex Police response to county lines drug dealing.
The 300 milestone is testament to the relentless enforcement activity carried out by the team. In partnership with the Metropolitan Police’s Op Orochi on Wednesday (14 June), Centurion supported four warrants in Eastbourne, Seaford and London targeting a suspected county line.
Two 25-year-old men from London and a 37-year-old woman from Seaford were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
County lines are where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another, often across police and local authority boundaries, usually by children or vulnerable people who are coerced into it by gangs. The ‘county line’ is the mobile phone line used to take the orders of drugs.
Founded in September 2020, Op Centurion was created to target and disrupt those who operate county drugs lines, create a hostile environment for them to work in and to protect communities from their activity.
Since its inception, the Centurion team have:
Disrupted or dismantled 300 county lines
Made 594 arrests
Charged in excess of 1,000 people
Brought sentences totalling over 538 years
Seized £933,000 in cash
Recovered £750,000 in assets such as jewellery, watches, and vehicles
And removed a conservative estimate of £2million in drugs from the streets of Surrey and Sussex
Over the past three years, co-ordinated police activity against dealers has increased, with the Centurion team working closely with the Metropolitan Police to target and prosecute offenders involved in drugs activity between Surrey, Sussex and London.
The work of these specialist teams includes analysis of mobile phones used by dealers to buy and sell Class A drugs. This information is critical to investigators, helping them target the most significant members of organised crime groups and ensuring longer term disruption.
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Hyder, of Op Centurion and the Surrey and Sussex Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “I am extremely proud of the whole Centurion team for their investigative work and assistance to disrupt 300 drug county lines - and we're still counting, as the hard work continues onto the next milestone.
“It is a huge achievement for a relatively new team, funded through the uplift. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes to achieve these results, relying on vital shared specialist knowledge.
“The supply of illegal drugs spreads enormous harm in our communities and devastates the lives of our most vulnerable people. Our commitment to disrupting this practice, alongside our partners, remains unwavering.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “County lines criminality continues to be a growing threat to our communities so I am delighted to see the success the Op Centurion team have had in taking the fight to these dangerous gangs.
“These criminal networks exploit young and vulnerable people so to disrupt 300 of these drug lines is brilliant news for residents.
“Driving these gangs out of Surrey remains a key priority for me as your Commissioner and I want to thank the Centurion team for the incredible effort in reaching this milestone and helping to keep our county safe.”
Report anything suspicious to police online or by calling 101 or report to British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 if you see something on the railway network. In an emergency, always call 999.
You can also speak to someone anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.