Four arrested as 'industrial scale' pill-making operation uncovered in Bowburn

Four men have been arrested and are due to appear before Newcastle Crown Court later this month. Credit: Northumbria Police

A machine capable of producing class C drugs on an 'industrial scale' has been seized by police in County Durham.

The equipment, which is capable of producing millions of fake tablets, was recovered from a storage unit at a business premises in Bowburn, Durham, on Thursday 25 April.

On arrival, officers forced their way into the unit where they also found hundreds of thousands of tablets which been confirmed as class C drugs, predominantly Bromazolam.

Two men were arrested at the site, where they also found equipment used to mix the drugs and package them into blister packets.

Thousands more tablets were found at a separate location in Birtley, in Gateshead, with the entire operation believed to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Hundreds of thousands of pills were seized in two raids by Northumbria Police. Credit: Northumbria Police

All four men, who are aged between 23 and 52, have been charged with being involved in the production and supply of class C drugs and will appear at Newcastle Crown Court later this month.

Detective Chief Inspector Marc Michael, of Northumbria Police, said: “This operation involved staff from across the organisation who showed great teamwork to uncover and dismantle an operation of this scale.

“The tablets have been confirmed as class C drugs which can cause serious harm to anybody who abuses them.

“Criminals involved in this illegal trade profit from the addiction and desperation of some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“Under the banner of Operation Sentinel, we have zero tolerance for drug-related criminality and will use every tool and our disposal to disrupt criminal organisations and pursue offenders.”

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