Thirteen people have been arrested and two county lines have been taken out during a series of dawn raids across the capital and Essex.

Warrants under the Misuse of Drugs Act were executed at several addresses in London, Clacton, Colchester and Braintree during the early hours of today (Thursday, February 6).

Arrests were made in South Countess Road, Walthamstow, Tony Rawson Way, Dagenham, Martens Meadow in Braintree, John Ruskin Street, in Kennington and six addresses in Clacton.

It is the culmination of a seven-month-long operation to target criminals involved in county lines drugs gangs.

Suspected class A drugs, a four- figure sum of cash and a stun gun have been seized.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Wells said: “A team of detectives has been working over the last seven months to gather evidence against criminals selling illegal drugs and exploiting vulnerable people in our communities.

“This operation is an example of the extensive and varied work that officers are doing every day to make Essex a hostile place for criminals who seek to sell drugs and exploit vulnerable people in our communities.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to take robust action against these criminal groups and any other individuals who try to fill the gap left by county lines that we dismantle.”

Today’s operation was part of our ongoing work under Operation Sceptre to tackle serious violent crime in public places, particularly knife crime.

DCI Wells said: “The term ‘county lines’ refers to the trafficking of drugs - typically crack cocaine and heroin - from major cities into smaller towns and rural areas.

“Drugs gangs prey on the vulnerable, using exploitation, grooming and the threat of violence to manipulate and control.

“We work closely with other organisations to support vulnerable people who are affected by gangs and county lines.

“We also urge anyone else who is in a similar situation and would like help and support, to please contact support Open Road.”

If you know of someone who you think is being exploited by drug dealers, or you have any information which might help prevent and detect crime, or protect vulnerable people, call 101.

Alternatively, contact the Crimestoppers charity 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the anonymous online form at