POLICE have issued an urgent appeal to locate a wanted man following an operation in which Class A drugs and a sawn-off shotgun were recovered from a property.

Stephen Robert Howard, 31, is believed to have fled Whitby after the intensive police operation last week that was supported by funding from the National County Lines Coordination Centre.

Detectives from the Scarborough and Ryedale Intelligence Hub, supported by the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, successfully bid for the funding to help the ongoing effort to tackle County Lines drug dealing in Whitby and the surrounding area.

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A large quantity of suspected Class A drugs was seized from a car that was heading to Whitby.

The Operational Support Unit then executed search warrants at several addresses in Whitby which led to the recovery of the sawn-off shotgun.

Two people have already been arrested and released under investigation while enquiries continue.

Searches for Howard are ongoing in the Whitby area, but there is also a possibility that he has headed to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands by train.

He also has links to Leeds in West Yorkshire.

British Transport Police, Police Scotland and West Yorkshire Police are assisting with the search for Howard.

He has also been circulated as wanted to police forces around the country.

Howard is described as white, 5ft 8in tall, short brown hair, green eyes, medium build, and he usually has a trimmed beard.

Anyone with information about Howard’s whereabouts or possible sightings of a man matching his description, are urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room.

If you would prefer to remain anonymous, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Please quote reference number 12220051395 when providing information.

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