FOUR York residents have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and human trafficking young people between York and Oldham. 

Dawn Raids today (Thursday) by North Yorkshire Police and Greater Manchester police resulted in 13 individuals, four from York, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and on suspicion of section two of the Modern Slavery Act – arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to being exploited.

The joint operation, codenamed Operation Homestead, was part of a four-month investigation into the transportation of class A drugs and the trafficking of vulnerable young people between the Oldham and York areas. 

In total, 13 people were arrested aged between 16 and 54 - nine men and four women. Two men aged 48 and 54, and two women aged 41 and 47 from the York area were arrested and have been taken into custody by officers from North Yorkshire Police.

Superintendent Lindsey Butterfield, North Yorkshire Police’s commander for the York and Selby areas, said: “Today’s action is a clear demonstration of how police forces and partner agencies work together to tackle the scourge of county lines drug dealing and send a very clear message to those who continue to exploit vulnerable people and bring drugs into North Yorkshire - it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be in the same position as those in custody right now.

“The operation also puts modern slavery in the spotlight and highlights the vulnerability of some of the people who are exploited by drug dealers.

"Particularly young people who are groomed by criminal gangs and end up in a situation they cannot get out of, being forced to work for drug dealers and facing abuse and violence.

"To that end, I urge members of the public to look beyond the obvious. Exploited and vulnerable people don't always look vulnerable, don't always act like victims, and may not believe or understand that they are being exploited.

"Please look out for the signs and report it, you could help save someone from a life of abuse. As you can see from today’s action, we will act on information.”  

Detective Chief Inspector James Faulkner, of GMP's Oldham division, said: "Today's strike action has come after months of dedicated work by officers on the Oldham district, along with our colleagues at North Yorkshire Police, to target and dismantle those involved in this grossly illicit activity.

"It is a very plain and simple fact that drugs wrecks live within communities, but they especially shatter those of vulnerable people who are targeted and threatened by criminal groups and made to suffer silently while being forced to assist their pernicious criminal enterprises.

"It isn't just our commitment to ensure those responsible are brought to justice but to also work collaboratively with local agencies and partners to put in place the appropriate services and safeguarding measures to support and protect those who bear the brunt of such criminality.

"This morning's operation should send a clear message to the community that we are determined to tackle this type of crime, and I encourage anyone with any information or concerns to make contact with police knowing that information will be treated with the strictest confidence."