Drug dealing gangs targeting vulnerable people have had their lucrative illicit businesses targeted through a hard-hitting initiative to take back control of the streets.

And the crackdown on drug gangs has been delivering results in Middlesbrough with hundreds of arrests and an arsenal of weapons seized.

Cleveland Police has arrested 552 people over the last 12 months through Project ADDER and disrupted 76 organised crime groups halting the flow of drugs across the town.

A total of 451 weapons, including knives and firearms, were also taken off the streets while the force carried out 1,613 drug seizures, including crack and heroin.

The Northern Echo: Cleveland Police carrying out drugs raidsCleveland Police carrying out drugs raids (Image: CLEVELAND POLICE)

Middlesbrough’s Neighbourhood Policing Team have arrested 51 people since February 2023 with a total of 44 years and 11 months of prison sentences have been dished by the courts in that same time period.

And there are still 19 people in custody awaiting sentencing.

One of those sentenced was 19-year-old Kai Inico who made off from police in Central Gardens, Middlesbrough, in May 2023.

He was pursued by a plain clothed officer and was seen dropping items which were later recovered including crack cocaine valued at around £2,650 and heroin worth around £870.

Inico was charged with possession of Class A drugs and was sentenced to 29 months in prison.

The Northern Echo: Kai InicoKai Inico (Image: Cleveland Police)

Project ADDER, (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement, Recovery), is funded by the Home Office and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Last week, warrants were executed on Burlam Road and Baker Street in Middlesbrough and resulted in the arrest of a 60-year-old woman on suspicion of conspiring to supply a Class A drug and possession of a Class B drug. She was bailed pending further enquiries.

Chief Inspector Gez Wraith, who is the force’s lead for ADDER, said: “We have disrupted organised crime groups who have been causing the most harm to our communities, brought members before the courts and secured lengthy sentences for those involved.

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“Drug dealing and associated crime has a huge impact on communities and I hope these recent results show our commitment to arresting offenders and making Middlesbrough a safer place to be.”

The Northern Echo: Members of Cleveland Police's ADDER team with PCC Steve Turner, second right.Members of Cleveland Police's ADDER team with PCC Steve Turner, second right. (Image: Cleveland Police)

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner has invested £125,000-worth of funding in the project and the money will be boosted by a further £375,000 from the Home Office and the PCC will invest another £250,000 in April.

He said: “It’s imperative that we get the worst offenders off the street and crack some of the criminal gangs, who are making the lives of many people across Cleveland a misery.”

If you suspect drug dealing in your area, please contact us on 101. Independent charity Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by phone on 0800 555 111.