1. ITV Report

More than 20 charged in drugs raids across Exeter

Officers break down a door to force their way into an address to conduct a search. Credit: ITV News Westcountry

More than 20 people have been charged in an effort to stifle the supply of hard drugs in to Exeter and Devon from major UK cities.

'Operation Cleft' is an effort to target known suppliers of highly addictive Class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.

We followed Devon and Cornwall Police officers on a morning raid in the Arena Park area of Exeter, where two homes were searched and two arrests were made.

One of those arrested after raid in the Arena Park area of Exeter. Credit: ITV News Westcountry

Officers told us the operation was an effort to break the supply chain:

“We are committed to tackling drugs in the area. The operation is a sustained response to the potential threat, risk and harm to Devon communities, linked to the activities of the Organised Crime Networks.

Months of work has been carried out by officers and we hope it will reassure local residents that police are taking the issue extremely seriously.”

– Det Supt Ken Lamont, Devon and Cornwall Police

It highlights a growing problem for Exeter, of organised drugs gangs from areas like London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, taking over the supply and trade of drugs in the city.

In August this year, three members of the infamous 'Chyna Gang' from the West Midlands werejailed for a total of more than 60 years for falsely imprisoning and raping a woman, along with tracking down a rival gang member to Exeter and stabbing him.

Often it is the most vulnerable people who are targetted by these big city gangs.

In August of this year, Liverpool Ryan Carney described Exeter as "a gold mine" as he took over a vulnerable addict's home, and used it as a base to sell drugs in a process known as "cuckooing". Where drugs suppliers will coerce themselves into the home of an addict and eventually try to take over the premises.

Liverpudlian Ryan Carney was jailed for three years for intent to supply, he described Exeter as 'a gold mine' for dealers. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Exeter has one of the highest rates of homelessness for a UK city outside of London.

It's thought many rough sleepers who are also addicts, provide a steady demand for Class A drugs, attracting gangs to the city.

Exeter's large homeless population provide a steady demand for Class A drugs. Credit: ITV News Westcountry