DRUGS officers have seized what they believe to be the biggest haul of Ecstasy found in County Durham.

Officers in Chester-le-Street recovered drugs with an estimated street value of at least £100,000, including 9,000 Ecstasy tablets, 3.5kg of cocaine and amphetamine and 1.5kg of cannabis resin.

Durham police said a 39-year-old man, a 17-year-old girl and a 62-year-old woman were arrested on drugs-related charges.

They were stopped by a marked police car in a routine check near Pelton on Thursday night.

Police found Ecstasy and Viagra tablets worth about £3,000 in the car, so they went to the man's house in Littletown, near Sherburn, Durham, and recovered a huge haul.

Detective Inspector Andy Reddick, of the Durham and Chester-le-Street division, described the operation.

He said: "They were stopped by a marked car in a routine stop. Someone who was known to the police was in the car and we used a drugs dog to search the vehicle.

"In the car we found Ecstasy, Viagra and a quantity of white powder, which we believed to be amphetamine and cocaine.

"We then went to his house and premises he had been to just prior to his arrest. We then recovered an awful lot of drugs, which when added together with the stuff found in the car, have a very conservative street value of £100,000."

The three people arrested were being interviewed by detectives at Durham for much of yesterday.

Det Insp Reddick said: "Last year, following deaths from drugs in the Chester-le-Street area, we decided to concentrate heavily on drug dealing in that town. We ran a covert operation called Operation Cassidy and we have 12 people in prison on remand awaiting sentence for being concerned with the supply of drugs.

"Yesterday's arrests were a continuation of that strategy. The supply of drugs was causing a lot of related crime in Chester-le-Street including burglaries and street robberies.

"We feel we are having significant successes against drugs dealers in the area."

Alistair Beck, 39, of Delight Row, Dipton, near Consett, has been charged with possession with intent to supply, and being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs. He is due to appear before Chester-le-Street magistrates today.

The two women were released on police bail pending further enquiries