POLICE who arrested eight suspected drug dealers staged their own light show last night to highlight their achievement – and to warn other dealers they were on their case.
More than 100 officers, including specialist dog teams, were involved in simultaneous drugs raids against eight men across Peterlee, County Durham, yesterday morning.
And last night officers made sure the arrests caught the attention of town centre crowds by using a floodlit projector to inform people of the result of the operation, lighting up the side of a town centre building. Chief Insp Elaine Taylor said: “Today we targeted people who are known dealers supplying heroin, cocaine and other drugs. Their removal from the streets is the consequence of months of careful evidence gathering.
“Near neighbours have been well aware of what we have been doing today. Our use of the floodlit projector using Lee House, near Asda, as a giant bill board, will ensure everyone out and about tonight will be aware as well.”
The people arrested, aged from 19 to 38 are currently being held at the town’s police station.
The operation is the latest strike under the ‘Nimrod’ banner – a rolling programme designed as an unrelenting series of attacks to wipe out street-level dealing throughout County Durham.
Community leaders were escorted to raid sites to watch the operation. Police also left “calling cards” at targeted houses with large stickers being posted on windows informing local residents exactly what the police operation was about.
Chief Inspector Taylor added the operation was launched as part of the national Not in My Neighbourhood campaign which is a week long initiative to combat drugs. She said: “Drug dealing and the anti-social behaviour and crime that follows in its wake is a major issue in local communities. We have consulted with them and our partner agencies. They said it was a problem and today’s raids are a direct result of the concerns they raised.
“The message we have sent out today is very simple. Drug dealing is not acceptable and will not be tolerated anywhere in the force area.”
Similar operations will take place over the coming months.
Chief Inspector Taylor added: “We know who is dealing drugs – and they will be arrested. Some may have escaped our hit list today but we can make them a promise: we will be back and knocking on their door soon.”
Police community support officers were out and about in the areas where the raids took place telling local residents just what has gone on and distributing leaflets outlining the reasons for the operation and asking people to contact police not only about drug dealing but all other criminal activity.
Officers are also working with a number of agencies, including the Drug and Alcohol Action team, to provide as much support as possible to help addicts receive treatment for their addiction.
Chief Insp Taylor said: “All information given to us is acted upon, even the most innocuous. What may seem to be of very little use could prove to be the last remaining piece of a bigger picture which allows us to act.
“Operations, such as the one today, take time in the planning and the collecting of evidence, but they are effective and welcomed by the vast majority of people. No one wants to see lives and communities blighted by the misery that drug dealing brings.”
People with information can ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or they can speak direct to their neighbourhood officers or raise issues at regular local meetings with beat officers.