Police have arrested 16 people in what is one of Durham Constabulary’s biggest ever crackdowns on suspected Class A drug dealers across the county.
At about 7.30am this morning, teams of officers simultaneously swooped on 21 properties across Newton Aycliffe and Darlington.
Nearly 200 officers and support staff were involved, which resulted in ten men and four women, aged between 24 and 48-years-old being arrested.
As part of the operation a further two men were arrested in Birmingham by Durham Constabulary officers, with the support of West Midlands Police, in connection with a County Lines investigation.
All were detained on suspicion of the supply or Class A drugs or being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
The raids were part of Operation Sentinel – the new joint initiative with neighbouring forces Northumbria and Cleveland launched to disrupt and prevent organised crime.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Lawrence, from Durham Constabulary, said: “This is one of the biggest operations of its kind that we have carried out and we are delighted with the results.
“This morning’s raids are the culmination of months of hard work and investigation which would not have been possible without the support of the community.
“I hope today’s action sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate criminality of this nature in our force area, and we will continue to take action to dismantle, disrupt and destroy these networks.”
Following this morning’s activity, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are being deployed to the areas around the target properties to provide reassurance and answer any questions residents may have.
Darlington Neighbourhood Inspector Chris Knox said: “This operation has taken considerable time planning and has nearly 200 officers allocated which displays how seriously Durham Constabulary takes organised crime and the commitment we have to take out those individuals who cause concerns within our community.
“The operation has been conducted as a result of community intelligence and I would urge the community to continue to reports such concerns to either the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555111.”