POLICE arrested 14 people in a series of early-morning raids targeting suspected Class A drug dealers across County Durham. 

At 6am on Monday morning, teams of officers swooped on properties in Consett, Burnopfield, Shotley Bridge, Leadgate, Bishop Auckland, Spennymoor, Ushaw Moor and Stanley.

The Northern Echo:

Simultaneous raids were also carried out at addresses in the Merseyside area and in Jarrow on behalf of Durham Constabulary.

More than 150 officers and support staff were involved in the operation, which resulted in 11 men aged between 24 and 44 three women aged between 37 and 61 arrested.

All were detained on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and some for money laundering.

The raids were part of Operation Sledgehammer, the force’s long-running campaign to tackle serious and organised crime.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Lawrence, from Durham Constabulary, said: “This operation has been an overwhelming success.

"The raids are the culmination of months of hard work and investigation which would not have been possible without the support of local people who have come forward with valuable pieces of intelligence.

“I hope today’s action sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate criminality of this nature in our force area, and we will take action to dismantle, disrupt and destroy these networks.”

Following Monday morning's activity, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are being deployed to the areas around the target properties to provide reassurance and answer any questions residents may have.

Anyone with any information about drug dealing and crime in their area should call Durham Constabulary on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.