The Changing Shape of Street-Level Heroin and Crack Supply in England: Commuting, Holidaying and Cuckooing Drug Dealers Across 'County Lines'

Ross Coomber, Leah Moyle

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Street-level drug markets have traditionally been understood as operating predominantly at a local level, and there has been an absence of contemporary research that has challenged accepted thinking around their shape and organization. This article aims to outline an important development in the retail drug supply landscape, analysing a fast evolving and expanding drug supply model that involves ‘outreach’ selling from major supply hubs, direct to heroin/crack users in provincial satellite areas. Drawing on a mixed method approach analysing heroin/crack markets in six English locales, we explore how so-called ‘county lines’ drug dealing manifests in these spaces. Findings suggest that distinctive supply practices including ‘commuting’, ‘holidaying’ and ‘cuckooing’ have emerged and that out-of-town dealers regularly exploit vulnerable populations in order to maximize economic gain in these new ‘host’ drug markets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323–1342
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number6
Early online date28 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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