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Police have arrested 19 people and seized an estimated £100,000 seized during a series of dawn drugs raids in Essex and Suffolk.
Essex Police said it was operation targeting a network suspected of supplying cocaine to county lines drugs gangs in west Essex, Hertfordshire, London, and Suffolk.
Weapons, cash and drugs were seized during dawn raids at 17 addresses in Harlow and one in Haverhill, Suffolk on Thursday 8 October.
Detective Chief Inspector Lewis Basford said: “Today’s arrests are the culmination of a complex investigation into a network of individuals suspected of feeding the drugs market by supplying cocaine to county lines gangs."
Taking out this organised criminal network is a major blow in drying up the supply to these gangs. This investigation is just one example of how we are targeting the chain at every level to dismantle drugs networks and make it even harder for them to operate. We are also helping to protect vulnerable adults and children who these criminals exploit and use for their own financial gain.
Police said 19 people were arrested are in custody for questioning:
Two 38-year-old men and two 36-year-old men on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class A drugs
Two 31-year-old women and a 37-year-old woman on suspicion of being concerned in supplying a controlled drug
A 29-year-old man, two 37-year-old men, three 38-year-old man, a 30-year-old man, a 31-year-old man, 39-year-old man, a 40-year-old man and 36-year-old man on suspicion of being concerned in supplying a controlled drug
A 35-year-old woman on suspicion of money laundering
Essex Police said that specialist officers from Operation Raptor – which is now part of the Serious Violence Unit - have been working since May to identify the leaders of this network and crack their sophisticated techniques to evade detection, including the use of cryptocurrency and encrypted phones.
The unit also works with other police forces and organisations such as the Eastern Region Serious Operations Unit, National Crime Agency and Border Force to tackle the drugs supply market at every level.
Chief Insp Basford said: “The majority of Essex residents will never be affected by drugs or violent crime and every day we’re working to keep it that way."
Drugs are the scourge of our time and thanks to an extraordinary effort by Harlow Police, they have removed a major hard drugs ring around our town.
The Labour leader of Harlow Council, Mark Ingall said: “This was a meticulously planned, well executed and successful operation by Essex Police.
“Sadly organised crime and drugs are a problem in most towns and cities in the UK not just Harlow. But thanks to the work today of Essex Police Harlow will be a safer place as a result."