Police targeting drug gangs make many more arrests during the coronavirus lockdown because dealers “stand out” and “get attention,” said a senior officer.
Superintendent Detective Jo Banks of the Sussex Police Force said the pandemic provided an unexpected opportunity to attack county lines – where organized groups move narcotics out of urban areas and into towns and villages.
But dealers have been “very quick to change (their) business model” since COVID-19 the epidemic has started, she said.
With the demand for drugs unchanged, the rail network was “shunned in favor of the roads,” she told PA news agency.
Officers are now patrolling the streets looking for shipments transported to their area.
Fewer drugs have been available since the lockdown, and purity has declined, said Banks.
There has also been a reduction in the “cuckoo clock” – which sees dealers taking over the homes of vulnerable people – again due to measures to stop coronavirus diffusion.
Discussing what had happened since the lockdown started on March 23, Ms. Banks said, “This has given us the opportunity to make more disruption because they stand out.
“When you look at our streets, their activity attracts attention.
“We are currently making many more arrests and we are still working with our partners to achieve this.”
She also said that she wanted to help those whose homes are taken over by drug gangs.
“One of the things I want is that we continue to reach these vulnerable people,” she said.
“We need to think about how we can use this time now to keep them from being vulnerable once the lockdown is over.”
Last weekend, officers found £ 23,000 worth of cannabis and several thousand pounds cash in an apartment in Bexhill, East Sussex.
Two men aged 22 and 21 and a woman aged 21 were arrested on suspicion of drug possession with the intent to provide and money laundering.