MORE than £28,000 worth of drugs have been seized and 48 people arrested in the past week as police cracked down on drug dealers in the county.

Officers arrested five people in Andover in the week starting January 21, as part of a national intensification week of action to tackle County Lines drug dealing.

Among the addresses raided were in Turin Court, Suffolk Road and Hazel Close and out of the five arrested, three were from London, and two were teenagers.

County Lines is the name given to the practice in which organised gangs from urban centres expand their drug dealing activity to smaller towns and rural areas.

Dealers typically use a single phone line to facilitate the supply of drugs which becomes a valuable asset and is protected with violence and intimidation.

In Andover officers seized 10g suspected crack cocaine,19g suspected heroin, 4g of cannabis and £2,898 cash.

Nine mobile phones were also taken.

Officers in Hampshire have also executed warrants, stop searches, conducted safeguarding visits, and worked with schools to raise awareness of this method of drug supply.

Superintendent Matthew Reeves, who led the operation, said: “The County Lines is relatively new. This networks operate across the country. The reason is so significant for us is because the model involves exploitations of children and adults.”

He explained that drug dealers approach youngsters and give them gifts such as new trainers, asking them to sell drugs in return.

Vulnerable people are also groomed for county lines.

“It’s not only the obviously vulnerable who are groomed for county lines. Young people from all backgrounds have been groomed for transporting and dealing drugs.

“This type of criminality needs a partnership approach, including our communities. I would urge anyone who is concerned about someone who may be involved in this activity to contact us or one of our partners,” Supt Reeves added.

The police chief said the week of action was "hugely successful" for the force in tackling the "real threat" of County Lines and associated violence in Hampshire.

“This is a real issue which is affecting Hampshire along with other areas in the country. A number of officers and staff have come together to target county lines which present the greatest threat, risk and harm to our communities,” Supt Reeves said.