The operation involved officers from Salford’s Challenger organized crime team and Display Enforcement team, with additional support provided by GMP’s Tactical Aid Unit and officers from neighboring districts. Together, they executed a set of warrants as part of “Operation Display,” a mission born out of a thorough investigation into an alleged large-scale county lines drug supply operation operating across Salford.
Today, Thursday, 20th July 2023, Greater Manchester Police teams systematically carried out these warrants across Salford, Gorton, and Oldham, leveraging the powers of the Misuse of Drugs Act to apprehend those involved. This initial activity marks just the beginning, as further phases of the operation are meticulously planned in the days and weeks to come.
“Operation Display” is a covert investigation conducted jointly by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) and Salford’s Challenger team. The investigation, initiated in September 2022, was strategically aimed at tackling the street-level drug supply in Salford, where reports of drug dealing in the Pendleton area, including Salford Precinct and the Broadwalk, have been consistent for years. The drug dealing activity extends beyond Pendleton to encompass areas like Broughton, Higher Broughton, and Eccles.
The primary drugs under scrutiny in this illegal enterprise are heroin and crack cocaine, with evidence also pointing to cannabis dealing. Tragically, the conflicts arising from these drug activities have led to acts of violence, as rival drug gangs vie for control over the lucrative Salford Precinct and Eccles drug supply hotspots, resulting in incidents involving firearms, stabbings, and fatalities.
To counteract the escalating trend of “cuckooing,” which exploits vulnerable adults’ homes as hubs for drug storage and distribution, the initiative known as “Salford Connect” was established, aiming to protect the victims of this insidious practice.
As a result of the thorough “Operation Display” investigation, the authorities have identified 37 street-level drug dealers operating in the Pendleton, Eccles, Broughton, and Higher Broughton areas. Among the individuals identified, 14 will be arrested during the first phase of the operation, with three of them being under the age of 17.
Following the morning’s activity, local officers partnered with Crimestoppers and utilized a digital van to tour around Pendleton, Eccles, and Broughton, actively engaging with members of the public. They informed the community about the arrests and encouraged them to continue providing vital information related to organized crime.
A “county line” operation involves the advertisement of illegal drugs via mobile phones, known as “graft lines,” with dealers transporting drugs from one area to another and across the country. Disturbingly, organized crime groups often exploit children to facilitate the transportation of drugs and profit from the illicit trade. This exploitation extends to the use of vulnerable adults’ homes for drug storage and distribution, a practice referred to as “cuckooing.”
In the fight against these criminal activities, the public’s vigilance is of utmost importance. Recognizing signs of child criminal exploitation, such as unexplained gifts, changes in behavior, and involvement with unfamiliar individuals, can play a crucial role in safeguarding vulnerable individuals from exploitation.
If anyone possesses information related to organized crime, regardless of how seemingly insignificant, they are urged to come forward and report anonymously to Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111 or call GMP at 101.
Various support services are available to those affected by exploitation, including Catch 22, a specialized support and rescue service for young people and their families facing criminal exploitation through county lines. Safecall provides a confidential space for individuals affected by exploitation to share their experiences and receive support and guidance. Young people can access non-judgmental information and advice through Crimestoppers’ Fearless initiative. The National Crime Agency County Lines website offers further information about county lines and indicators of exploitation in specific areas. Additionally, the Safeguarding Network provides valuable insights into recognizing indicators of exploitation and understanding the factors that may make a young person more vulnerable to being exploited.