DOZENS of officers carried out a series of raids across Stockton this morning as they continue to target street-level drug dealers.

Addresses on Dovecot Street and Hartington Road were amongst the 13 properties raided as part as Operation Sentinel continues to tackle the impact of organised crime in the region.

A teenage boy, who has been missing for several weeks, was discovered inside a house on Dovecot Street and officers believed he may have been exploited by the criminal gang.

At an address on Hartington Road, two people were arrested on suspicion of being involved with the supply of Class A drugs and a large machete was recovered from the flat.

Inspector Tony Cross, from Cleveland Police Community Drugs Enforcement Team, said: “The purpose of the operation is to arrest street-level drug dealers and provide support to drug users.”

Valerie Clark, who lives near two the raided properties on Dovecot Street, welcomed the police action.

The 77-year-old said: “I really think that it is good that they are doing something about it. I have lived here for years and the problems seem to be getting worse at the moment. I do feel sorry for the drug users because they seem to get them at such a young age but sometimes I am scared to come out of my own home.

“We have had police round here on account of the drugs, which is terrible, I feel sad for them. I have neighbours here who have very young children and you worry when they are going out.”

Earlier this week officers arrested nine people – one female and eight males – aged between 16 and 50 in connection with the supply of Class A drugs.

They also seized £11,000 in cash, three machetes, a knife, BB gun, crossbow bolts and class B drugs from properties in Stockton, Thornaby and Eaglescliffe as part of the regional operation to tackle serious and organised crime.

Temporary assistant chief constable of Cleveland Police Lisa Orchard said: “This was the culmination of a long investigation into the supply of controlled drugs and this is the second phase of arrests and warrants that have been carried out across the Cleveland area.”

Officers say so far five people have been remanded in custody connection with the ongoing operation while investigations continue into others.