The gangs use the homes to stash weapons and sell illegal substances.
What is cuckooing?
Dealers befriend vulnerable individuals whose homes they turn into a place to keep and sell drugs.
These are known as traphouses and leave victims facing violence and abuse.
Diane Hill, a Metropolitan police sergeant, said: “Thousands of people across the UK are affected by this. In the last month in Greenwich West we have had three cuckooing incidents. Across the whole of Britain it’s a vast problem.”
After befriending people who are too vulnerable to realise what is going on, the gangs invade the house and begin operating from there.
The gangs sometimes promise to pay an electricity bill or buy a TV before taking over the flat.
Those who fall victim tend to have mental health problems or addiction issues.
Cuckooing has risen with the growth of county lines drug trading, also known as “going country” or OT (out there), where urban gangs move class A drugs and cash between inner-city hubs and provincial areas.
Urban dealers target homes of vulnerable individuals in small, rural and coastal towns where they can set up and sell drugs.
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