17 arrested in raids across Durham, Cleveland, Jarrow, Nottingham and Northampton

Thirteen men and four women have been arrested in  raids for alleged drugs and money-laundering offences across five police force areas today.

Officers executed warrants at addresses in Durham, Cleveland, Jarrow, Nottingham and Northampton.

Those arrested are in custody at South Shields, Middlesbrough, Darlington and Nottinghamshire police stations where they will be questioned.

More than 60 detectives, uniformed officers and specialist staff took part in 'Operation Patton', a North East Regional Organised Crime Unit investigation targeting organised crime gangs operating in the North-East region with criminal links to other force areas.

As part of the operation officers recovered £5 million worth of drugs in January 2013 from a storage unit in North Yorkshire.

Two men were arrested, charged, remanded and currently awaiting sentence after submitting a plea.

Officers have also recovered £450,000 in cash.

Assistance for the operation was also provided by Northumbria, Durham, Cleveland, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Officers from the local neighbourhood policing teams will be on the streets to provide reassurance to any concerned residents.

North East Regional Organised Crime Unit Detective Inspector Paul Colling said: "Today's operation has been planned for some time and demonstrates the coordinated law enforcement approach to tackling serious and organised crime within the North-East region in relation to the supply and distribution of illegal drugs and money laundering that allows criminal businesses to operate”.

“The North East Regional Crime Unit is committed to working closely with partner agencies to ensure that the North-East region is a safe place to live and work and we will continue to target and tackle serious and organised crime.”

In Northumbria, a man aged 54 and a woman aged 46 were arrested in Jarrow for conspiracy to supply drugs and money laundering offences. They are currently in custody.

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