Five so called ‘county lines’ gangs based in the Sheffield area are said to have been ‘dismantled or seriously disrupted’ following a series of raids.
Three other gangs from elsewhere were also identified.
County lines gangs move drugs from large urban areas into other places elsewhere in the country to expand their reach.
Often, younger gang members are used to transport the drugs to avoid detection and to create distance between them and those in charge of the criminal enterprises if the runners are ever caught.
Over the past six weeks police officers in Chesterfield have been running an operation targeting the supply of drugs into the town by Sheffield gangs.
A total of 41 raids were carried and 46 arrests were made.
Of those, 36 people have been charged with various offences, including conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine, and possession with intent to supply. A total of 28 have been remanded to prison while their cases progress.
Large quantities of heroin and crack cocaine were seized, along with £500,000 worth of criminal property, including designer clothing, jewellery and a £90,000 BMW.
Three people have been referred to specialist support services after being deemed to have been ‘exploited by the gangs’ and action has been taken to safeguard 10 children who were found in properties where drug dealing was taking place.
Detective Sergeant Simon Cartwright, of Derbyshire Constabulary, said: “The work over the last six weeks has struck a heavy blow on the criminal networks that have been controlling the supply of drugs into Chesterfield.
“These gangs do not see county borders; however, I am happy to report that neither do we as we have been working closely with our colleagues in South Yorkshire Police who have helped dismantle five lines that were running into our county.
“The work against these gangs is only part of the solution to the problem – and we are also working closely with partner agencies, including Chesterfield Borough Council, to give those vulnerable people in our community the support they need to break out of the cycle of addiction.
“While the last six weeks have seen very real successes, we are not complacent and will continue to detect, disrupt and bring to justice those who create such damage in our communities.”
Detective Inspector Andrew Shields, from South Yorkshire Police, said: “Criminal gangs behind county line drug supply cause a significant amount of harm through the exploitation of vulnerable people, often using them to supply class A drugs. These groups also spread misery among the communities in which they operate, and this is why it is a priority for our force to target and disrupt those believed to be involved in county lines criminality.
“The county lines business model seeks to exploit drug addiction and demand in other parts of the country and those behind this criminal enterprise under-estimate the power of collaboration when police forces come together to share information and resources.
“Our work to disrupt county lines activity is far from over. We have dedicated teams that will continue to work every day to make South Yorkshire safer for everyone and this includes working with other forces to disrupt county lines drug supply.”