COUNTY Lines is the name given to the phenomenon of big city gangs sending runners out to smaller towns and cities to sell drugs.

There’s nothing new about gangsters from London, Manchester and Liverpool controlling the drugs trade.

But what is new is the explosion in smaller-scale dealers moving into places like Swindon.

Thanks in part to the M4 and the London-to-Bristol railway line, the town is estimated to have more County Lines gangs passing through than anywhere else in the country.

Wiltshire Police estimates there could be between 30 and 37 “lines” – phone numbers addicts call to order drugs – operating in Swindon.

Across the country, the National Crime Agency claims there were 1,000 branded lines working in 2018.

Involved in the trade is everyone from Albanian mafia bosses moving cocaine into the UK, London-based street gangs and, at the bottom of the chain, desperate addicts paid in kind for shifting crack and heroin on street corners.

Detectives claim children can be groomed into selling drugs, drawn in by the promise of cash, top brand trainers and premium label liquor.

The life is lionised in rap videos. Earlier this summer, rapper Nahkell “J Avalanche” Gordon was jailed for nine years for his part in a plot to transport £200,000-worth of cocaine from London to Swindon. In song 4 Ways the musician, said to be a member of London gang the Wood Green Mob, sets out a recipe for making crack cocaine.