POLICE have released14 people under investigation who were arrested in a series of early-morning raids targeting suspected Class A drug dealers.

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

Simultaneous raids were also carried out at addresses in the Merseyside area and in Jarrow, South Tyneside, 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 being 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.

A police spokesman said all the suspects had now been released pending further investigation.

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have been deployed provide reassurance and answer any questions of residents. Anyone with any information about drug dealing and crime should contact Durham Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.