A major ongoing operation targeting serious and organised crime gangs across Herts has been underway since 2018.

Since May 2019 the Operation Mantis team has executed over 200 search warrants, made 211 arrests and seized over £175,000 in cash. This has led to numerous gangs being dismantled and offenders sentenced to more than 206 years in prison in total.

Op Mantis is part of a much bigger policing effort targeting County Lines operations, working with the Eastern Regional Special Operations Unit, National Crime Agency and many other agencies both regionally and nationally, to ensure there is a comprehensive joined-up approach to tackling these issues.

Ch Insp Mike Todd, who leads policing in St Albans, explained: "We continue to make a significant impact on the County Lines networks across the region and have already shut down several drug networks and caused major disruptions to others.

"We continue to work with partners to raise awareness of County Lines among young people, parents, teachers and other members of the community to help protect the vulnerable and prevent them from being pulled into this kind of activity. "

Hertfordshire has been awarded an additional £509,000 for 2021/22 from the Government’s new £80m funding to enhance drug treatment programmes, and reduce drug-related crime and drug-related deaths.

“Sadly, drugs are available all over the country. As well as tackling the criminals who profit from this illegal activity to reduce this supply, we also work with our partners to reduce the demand.

“We work to protect the vulnerable people they often exploit, to help those with addictions get help and support, and to educate young people about the harms of taking drugs.”

One of the recent successes within the district was an initiative to break up drug dealing around Bardwell Court in the city, which involved officers from the Operation Scorpion team - which targets burglars, robbers and those involved in drug and vehicle related crime - working alongside the Met Police, Safer Neighbourhood Team and BCH Dogs

Abdullahi Sherif Omar, 22, from Park Road North in London was charged with being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine between February 12 and July 14. He pleaded guilty at remand court and was due for sentencing this week.

Abdul Rahim Abdullahi, 24, from Priors Croft in London, has been remanded for the same charges and currently awaits trial.

Ch Insp Todd said: “We are grateful to the public who provided information about this location.

"This information helps us understand much of the problem, however often much more work is required before we can disrupt this activity effectively and ultimately bring charges against those involved.

“We are limited as to what we can say because of ongoing court proceedings but this work often involves extensive intelligence gathering work including covert policing tactics.

"I understand that people want to see a prompt response when they have reported a crime. I can reassure people that we do act on every piece of information we receive.

"However not all of our work is visible to the public, and for obvious reasons we cannot always share information about our activity with the public.

“Our aim is to remove the criminals who cause our community harm for good so we can make a lasting difference to the quality of life in the area. I’d like to thank the public for their support and patience as we do this work.”