Nearly 50 dogs have been seized and six people have been arrested in morning raids in County Durham.
Police and RSPCA officers raided six properties at dawn today where organised criminals are said to be running an illegal puppy farm operation.
Several arrests have been made and a number of dogs seized in a swoop on 3 homes and two farms in Shotton Colliery and one in Haswell, also County Durham .
The gang is alleged to have been selling jackhuahuas - a cross between a Jack Russell and a chihuahua - on the internet which have quickly become ill and in some cases died.
Police and RSPCA officers raid suspected illegal puppy farms in County Durham
The raids, codenamed Operation Waxbill, saw officers raid Bracken Hill Livery Farm, Swan Castle Farm, homes on Kier Hardie Terrace, Bruce Glacier Terrace, all in Shotton Colliery, and Windsor Terrace in Haswell.
Exactly 40 adult dogs and 12 puppies have been seized during raids on six properties so far.
Six people, including five men and woman, have been arrested.