COCAINE that could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds was seized by police targeting a suspected crime gang.

Three men were arrested and 2kg of cocaine and an air rifle were found during the operation on Thursday afternoon.

The intelligence-led swoop was carried out in the Thompson Street area of Darlington when police stopped a fourwheel drive Mitsubishi Shogun at 4pm.

Three men, aged 26, 33 and 41 and all from the Darlington area, were arrested and questioned.

They remained in custody last night.

Officers suspected the three men were part of a bigger gang operating in the town.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Chapman, of Darlington police, said the drugs were yesterday sent for analysis, which would identify how pure they were.

He said 1kg of cocaine was worth about £50,000 to dealers, but depending on its purity it could have a significantly higher street value, possibly as much as several hundred thousand pounds.

He said the arrests were part of Durham Police’s work to target, disrupt, dismantle and destroy organised crime.

He added: “This is only part of a number of ongoing operations to achieve this aim, and intelligence provided by local communities goes a long way to achieve results.

“Investigations into the activities of these groups are continuing and we are confident that further arrests will be made in the coming days.”

He said the operation was a result of public information and police inquiries, and that further inquiries will continue into drug activities at all stages in the supply line.

He said: “There are organised crime groups throughout every county across the country.

It is a matter of targeting them at an early stage.”

Anyone with information about drugs is asked to call police on 0345-60-60-365 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111