Crime gang targeted in dawn police raids

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Police call them the Avenham Organised Crime Gang - a mob peddling drugs, violence and intimidation.

But senior officers are hoping a series of early morning raids in Preston yesterday will have seriously disrupted one of the most active criminal groups in the city.

RESULT: Police breaking down the front door of a house in Walker Place, Avenham

RESULT: Police breaking down the front door of a house in Walker Place, Avenham

Snatch squads swooped on 13 homes in a co-ordinated exercise called Operation Fez, looking to take out senior members accused of running organised crime in the south of the city. Eight suspects were arrested and a cache of narcotics uncovered.

And later the man in charge of the raids, Acting Superintendent Steve Dowson, said: “Our message to people involved with gangs is that we will use everything we can to stop their activity.”

More than 50 police took part in the action, forcing their way into houses across the city including Walker Place in Avenham and Derby Square off New Hall Lane.

In addition to the eight arrests, teams also carried out detailed searches of the properties looking for drugs and weapons.

Supt Dowson explained: “This was an important part of our plans to combat gang-related criminality in this city. Officers have worked together with the community to get the intelligence we acted upon.

“I want to assure these people that if they deal drugs in this city and are involved in gang-related criminal behaviour, we will deal with them, we will bring them to justice.

“We’re also trying to stop people joining these gangs and we’ll help anyone who wishes to get away from this life of crime, which causes misery to both the public and the gang members and their families, and make sure they get the right support.

“The Avenham OCG have been involved in drug dealing and criminal activity for quite a long period of time. They are a real pain. They have not only been involved in dealing high level drugs on the streets, but also acts of violence and intimidation.”

Prior to yesterday’s raids Operation Fez, part of the long-running Operation Nemesis tackling drug crime in the city, had netted more than £12,000 in drugs and cash and captured two firearms.