POLICE have arrested five people in Oswestry in connection with a county lines operation.

The arrests were made on Monday, July 15 after raids in Merseyside and Oswestry.

West Mercia Police led the operation, with officers working alongside Merseyside Police and the Serious Organised Crime Unit to disrupt an organised criminal network involved in supplying drugs from Merseyside into Oswestry.

Shropshire Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Mike Nally said: "This has been a large scale operation involving a large number of officers from two police forces and the regional organised crime unit to disrupt an organised crime group involved in drugs supply from Merseyside into Oswestry.

"We know that county lines is a national issue with many towns and cities across the country experiencing issues and that violence and criminal exploitation is inherent to it.

"We want to send a clear message to those involved that we simply won't tolerate it happening here and will do all we can to relentlessly pursue those involved and make it as difficult as possible for them to operate here."

There was a total of 12 arrests made as part of the operation with officers carrying out warrants and arrests in Merseyside.

DCI Nally added: "Carrying out warrants and making arrests will not sufficiently tackle county lines on its own.

"In Shropshire, as part of our serious and organised crime joint action group we work closely with a range of other agencies all of who play an important part and I'm really pleased and grateful for the work that is being undertaken by our partners to strengthen our response to serious and organised crime.

"It is not unusual for these organised crime groups to criminally exploit young people, supposedly recruiting them to deal drugs on their behalf but what they are actually doing is taking advantage and using them for their own gain, putting the child at risk and it's important we all play a part in being able to spot the signs of county lines so we can do something about it."

To report concerns about county lines or cuckooing to police ring 101 or alternatively information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.