EIGHT people suspected of dealing Class A drugs were arrested in dawn raids on five homes in the region this morning (Wednesday, July 16).

At about 6am, 50 officers swooped on houses in Darlington, including properties in Lewes Road and Gladstone Street, and one in Colburn, North Yorkshire, to catch suspected heroin dealers.

Eight people aged between 30 and 40 were arrested on suspicion of supplying heroin and taken to Darlington police station for questioning.

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A quantity of Class A drugs was also seized from a number of the properties.

The dawn raids were part of Operation Sledgehammer – Durham Police’s campaign to target organised crime – and followed months of investigative work by officers using intelligence from the public and surveillance.

The operation has so far seen more than 20 people arrested on suspicion of supplying and conspiring to supply Class A drugs in Darlington.

The Northern Echo:
A woman is arrested during raids in Darlington this morning

Chief Superintendent Graham Hall said that arresting the suspected dealers and disrupting the sale and supply of drugs would have a knock-on effect on other crime in the town, including shoplifting and thefts from cars.

He said: “I would like to thank the people of Darlington for the information they have provided to the police over recent months.

“That information has been acted upon and has resulted in the operation.

“It shows what can be achieved by police working with the community – without their support these operations could not take place.”

Chief Inspector Chris Reeves, of Darlington police, added: “I am delighted with the result because we have taken what we believe to be the main heroin dealers in Darlington off the streets and we will be looking for significant terms of imprisonment for them.”

The Northern Echo:
Police raid a house in Lewes Road, Darlington

He said all those arrested during the raids would also be offered drug rehabilitation help.

The raids were watched by two German police officers undertaking work experience with the force, as well as Councillor David Regan and the mayor of Darlington, Councillor Gerald Lee.

The Northern Echo:
Police arrest a man in Lewes Road, Darlington

Cllr Lee said: “It was great to see how the police deal with people with such courtesy and it was brilliant to see the success that this campaign is producing.

“I think the message to the dealers is deal and you will be dealt with.”

Anyone with any information on suspected drug dealing can call police on 101.