FIFTEEN people have been arrested in dawn raids targeting criminal gangs and drug dealers.

About 200 officers including some from the National Crime Agency swooped on houses across County Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Shropshire and Manchester shortly after 6am today, under Operation Russett.

Twelve men, two women and a youth were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

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In the North-East, the attention was on the outskirts of Durham City.

The raids follow a 12-month campaign, the largest intelligence-led operation Durham Police have ever been involved with.

Cannabis, amphetamine and three vehicles were seized.

Neighbourhood Chief Inspector Andy Huddleston said: “Today’s operation has been an overwhelming success.

“Organised crime affects everybody and today’s activity shows that we will act in response to community concerns and put criminals out of business.”

To report a crime, call the police on 101.