SCORES of people suspected of being involved in drug dealing, rape and online child abuse were arrested by police in a county-wide crime blitz.

Among those arrested were 18 people apprehended following dawn raids targeting high-harm drug supply in communities across Cumbria.

Teams seized the equivalent of 2,000 street deals of heroin, 50 crack cocaine deals and ‘supply quantities’ of powder cocaine and cannabis.

The proactive action saw trained specialist officers use tactics including the use of a chainsaw to gain entry to properties as detectives, dogs unit officers and uniformed officers worked together to target the county’s drugs black market.

 Illicit pharmaceuticals were also recovered – along with knives, knuckle dusters, phones and over £5,000 in suspected illegally-made cash.

The force's online child abuse team led on seven separate disruptions during the campaign, resulting in three warrants executed, four arrests made, and numerous digital devices seized. Officers also carried out safeguarding interventions. 

This work was followed up by a further 27 arrests this week as part of an operation, codenamed Merlin, in which officers carried out extensive enquiries out to round-up identified suspects wanted for a range of offences including domestic abuse, drug supply, rape and stalking offences.

The operation also resulted in enquiries carried out to round-up identified suspects wanted for offences including domestic abuse, drug supply, rape and stalking.

 As well as the arrests, seizures and warrants, police reached out to almost 700 residents in neighbourhoods by going door-to-door to hand out leaflets appealing for information and help.

The Westmorland Gazette: GENERIC PICTURE --- Drug syringe and cooked heroin on spoon

Detective Chief Inspector David Cooper, head of Cumbria Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, was one of the leading officers on the operation.

 He said: “We work all-year-round to tackle criminality across all areas of crime impacting on our communities.

"This intensified disruption campaign was conducted by our Specialist Capabilities and Neighbourhood Policing teams and underlines our commitment to supporting our law-abiding communities in tackling head-on those who commit crimes across Cumbria.

 “Our focus was on high-harm drugs supply, online child abuse and ‘rounding up’ wanted persons in our communities who thought they were above the law and the consequences. 

“Disrupting community drug supply, investigating online child abuse and more generally, holding criminals to account are amongst shared community and policing priorities towards a safer county.” 

“This coordinated action should send a clear message to those dealing in [the drug trade] : we will not stand for this and they will be stopped.

 “High-harm drugs such as heroin and cocaine can have a devastating impact on peoples' lives. There is also the knock-on effect on communities, such as the anti-social behaviour linked to homes being used to deal and the thefts that accompany people stealing to feed their addictions.

 “We will do all we can to stop drugs criminals targeting our communities as they aim to line their pockets at the expense of other people’s misery.”

The Westmorland Gazette: Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria Peter McCall: 6 June 2016..STUART WALKER ..Stuart Walker Photography 2016.

Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “This is a fantastic snapshot of what the Constabulary achieve year-round.  This is a constant battle and as the detail above demonstrates, the harm of drug-use and dealing involves a range of crime, use of weapons and violence, that is why it is totally unacceptable.

 “Dealers should expect the police to continue to pursue them robustly and bring them to justice.  Cumbria Police have a strong record of effectively bringing drug dealers to justice and will continue to deal robustly with anyone dealing drugs in our county.

 “Officers are constantly working on the streets and behind closed doors to gather intelligence to take down drug supply chains and stop the flow of dangerous drugs entering our county and affecting our communities. 

 “Any addiction can destroy the lives of those who take drugs and have a negative effect on their wider circle of family and friends.  There are agencies who can help those with addiction to drugs and this is a crucial aspect in reducing demand and I would urge anyone who needs this support to contact Recovery Steps Cumbria.

 “I know that members of the public do sometimes get the impression that when they report drug dealing or activity they don’t necessarily see an instant response, I want to reassure that all information is logged and is used to build up intelligence.

 “This allows the police to target effective response and I would urge anyone with information on drug traffickers or dealers to call or email the police on 101 or report it to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

 “Together we can make Cumbria an even safer place to live.”