Five more arrested in crackdown on organised crime in Blackpool as police tell gangs: "You're not welcome in Lancashire"

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Five more suspected members of an organised crime gang exploiting children and bringing dangerous class A drugs into Blackpool have been arrested.

Three people arrested yesterday in connection with the investigation have now been charged.

Adam Percival, 31, and Suzanne Matthews, 34, of Condor Grove, Blackpool and Stephen Hodson, 45, of Reads Avenue, have all been charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, and are due to appear at Blackpool Magistrate’s Court on May 28.

Four men and one woman were arrested in a series of raids in the Grasmere Road area this morning and remain in police custody.

A 41-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and possession with intent to supply class A.

A 22-year-old man and a 23-year-old-man were arrested on suspicion possession with intent to supply.

A 45-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Smith, of Blackpool Police, said: “The arrests today conclude a complex investigation into an organised crime group allegedly responsible for the exploitation of adults and children using the county lines model across a number of force areas. Our commitment to disrupting and dismantling these groups and this type of criminality alongside our partners is a priority and we will continue with these efforts to ensure we keep our communities safe.

“My message to these gangs is clear, you are not welcome in Lancashire and if you continue to conduct your criminal activities in this area then expect to be identified and arrested. The safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is a priority for us all and we continue to focus our efforts on bringing anyone who exploits such individuals to justice.

“I would also urge our communities to work with us on identifying those responsible for this type of activity so that we can continue to keep our communities safe. Intelligence from members of the public is key in operations like this and I would appeal to anyone who has information that could assist, whether that be concerns around children, premises that are being used by such groups or indeed information about those responsible to come forward.”

Ten people arrested in the West Yorkshire area last week have also been charged.