Police netted six suspected drug dealers – including a 13-year-old boy – in a series of early morning raids.
A seventh person, a 31-year-old woman, was also arrested for possession of heroin as teams of officers forced their way into homes around Preston in a co-ordinated swoop codenamed Operation Arrow.
The raids were carried out in St Paul’s Road in Deepdale, Villers Street in Plungington, and Fishwick Parade as part of a major attempt to smash organised gangs which are blighting neighbourhoods.
The houses, all of which were targeted following tip-offs from local residents, were searched using sniffer dogs, with items including drugs, cash and mobile phones being seized.
Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw accompanied a team on one of the raids in Deepdale, watching as officers in full body armour used a battering ram – nicknamed ‘The Enforcer’ – to crash through the front door in seconds. The Evening Post was also present at two of the busts, one of which resulted in the arrest of a 63-year-old man on suspicion of being involved in the supply of heroin.
“Other operations are going on in this division which will be coming to the fore in the next few months,” revealed Acting Supt Steve Dowson.
“Hopefully, this will send out a strong message that we do take the information the public give us seriously and we do act on it. We hope they will provide reassurance to those communities.”
The swoops were part of a wider investigation called Operation Nemesis which has been running for some time with the aim of dismantling gangs which bring misery to areas of Lancashire.
The 13-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis with intent to supply.
Others in custody after the morning raids included two men in their early 30s and a 21-year-old.
All seven were taken in for questioning at Preston Police Station.
Commissioner Grunshaw said: “The message this sends out to the criminal fraternity is they will get caught, they will not get away with it, they are not untouchable.
“For the public the message is that when they do give information to the police it is acted upon. I would encourage any member of the public with any information to come forward.
“The reason this operation took place was because of the information they gave in the first place. It’s all about gathering information, whether it be drug dealing, violence, or antisocial behaviour.
“It is about making Preston a safer place for the community to live in.”
Det Insp Warren Atkinson added: “This morning’s arrests are part of our ongoing commitment to tackle and dismantle groups and gangs who cause serious anti-social behaviour and violence.
“We have acted on information which has been passed to us by our local communities and we would encourage people to continue to come forward with information.”
As part of Operation Nemesis, police officers have been targeting suspected criminal groups in Preston, Penwortham and also Skelmersdale.
Det Insp Atkinson added: “Operation Nemesis has been set up to deal with organised crime groups causing serious anti-social behaviour and disruption to local neighbourhoods.”
He urged anyone with information to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.