A loaded semi-automatic pistol and ammunition have been seized by police during a drugs raid.

The weapon was found under the floorboards of a house in Dawdon, County Durham, as part of Operation Grasshopper - which has led to the arrest of a total of 35 people for various drugs related offences.

Easington crime manager, Detective Chief Inspector Brian Tait, said: "In my time here, which is over a year, it's the first firearm we have recovered."

A 28-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of the unlawful possession of a section one firearm, and is on police bail until next month.

Along with the pistol, police also recovered property including the bonnet, windscreen and parcel shelf of a stolen Ford Fiesta in the month-long operation, which ended last Sunday.

As part of the operation, police executed 18 warrants at homes across east Durham, and seized more than £1,200 in cash, believed to be the proceeds of drug dealing.

A total of 35 people - 28 men and seven women - were arrested, mostly for drugs-related offences, although some were also suspected of burglary and driving offences.

Among the drugs seized were 84 cannabis plants, nearly half a kilo of cannabis resin and 193 ecstasy tablets.

The operation followed the recent recovery of large quantities of drugs in the area.

In January, officers scooped County Durham's biggest haul of ecstasy - a total of 40,000 tablets - after stopping a car on the A19.

Days later, they found hundreds of mature cannabis plants being cultivated in a factory unit at Cold Hesledon, near Murton.

Det Ch Insp Tait denied that the drugs problem in east Durham was escalating, with dealers fleeing a police clampdown on Teesside.

"Easington district is one of the more socially deprived areas of the country, and that might have some impact, but it's not the case that drugs on the streets are rife," he said.