We'll never ease up in our drugs battle'

PUBLISHED: 13:10 11 August 2006 | UPDATED: 19:47 01 June 2010

The scene after the raid in York Road – 8071

The scene after the raid in York Road - 8071

SOME had travelled 100 or more miles to get there, but by 4.30am on Wednesday, 250 police officers were in position to launch one of the biggest anti-drug offensives Wisbech has seen. And pictured are officers smashing their way into a house in Milner Roa

A MAN is searched before being driven away by police

SOME had travelled 100 or more miles to get there, but by 4.30am on Wednesday, 250 police officers were in position to launch one of the biggest anti-drug offensives Wisbech has seen.

And pictured are officers smashing their way into a house in Milner Road at the start of the operation.

Nine terraced houses were simultaneously raided in a pre-dawn swoop that netted seven suspected drugs dealers as neighbouring residents filed from their homes to watch the drama unfold.

"One lady came outside and she was moved to tears of joy to see we were there dealing with those people who had clearly been a big problem," said Acting Chief Supt David Hankins.

A police officer at the door of one of the Milner Road properties, showing the damage caused by the police entry - 8053 Pics: Brian Purdy

He had personally supervised Operation Usk which had taken months of planning and which drew on officers from Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Essex and Hertfordshire.

The Cambridgeshire force helicopter was used to track a fleeing suspect, and firearms officers and dog handlers were also called into help with the raids.

Addresses in York Road, Stow Road, and Ramnoth Road were also targeted.

nPatrick Crerand, 33, of Ramnoth Road, faces five counts of supplying class A drugs, and has been bailed to Fenland magistrates' court on Tuesday.

Police in protective gear about to enter a house in Milner Road after other officers had smashed their way through the door

Joanne Hall, 41, and Robin Fisher, 51, of York Terrace, appeared before Peterborough magistrates yesterday (Thursday) charged with possession with intent to supply class A drugs.

Christopher Donovan, 24, of Stow Road, also appeared before Peterborough magistrates, accused of possession with intent to supply class A drugs.

Three men, aged 23, 41, and 56 , all from Wisbech, and arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, were still in custody yesterday (Thursday) facing further questioning.

Chief Supt David Hankins: “Drug dealing is a high-risk crime”

BEHIND Wednesday's raids on nine Wisbech addresses was the determination of police to disrupt the drugs market in the town and to deal a blow to organised crime.

Acting Chief Supt David Hankins said: "This was one of the biggest operations in the Wisbech area for some time.

"We also want to reassure the community that we take a very tough line on drugs.

"When the operation started there was obviously a lot of activity and commotion and many neighbours were looking through their windows to see what was going on."

As part of the investigation officers will also be looking at the financial gains of those who are involved in drug dealing.

Cambridgeshire has an enviable record of snatching back the proceeds of crime, and recently, and ironically, it was the smashing of another Wisbech drugs ring, masterminded by the Warden family, which gave them a massive lift.

Not only were the main suspects jailed - husband and wife team Barry and Mavis Warden and their son Richard each got 10 years - but police got court orders forcing them to hand over £300,000 gained from their criminal activities.

Chief Supt Hankins said: "Drugs crime and the misery it creates for victims and their families and the wider community has no place in Cambridgeshire

In Wednesday's raids, four men aged 23, 24, 41 and 56 were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

A 51-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of being concerned with the supply of class A drugs.

A 33-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of supplying a class A drugs.

All seven are from Wisbech.

The police involved in mounting Operation Usk included specialist task teams from other forces who are trained to carry out intricate searches of properties.

Chief Supt Hankins said the operation was the result of months of intelligence led policing.

Substances believed to be drugs have been recovered from at least one of the properties.

And the force helicopter helped to track one of the offenders who had escaped on to the roof of a property in Milner Road.

Officers also used a police 4X4 vehicle to pull open one of the doors at one of the raided properties as it had been reinforced with metal.

"We are extremely pleased with the way the operation went," said Chief Supt Hankins.

The message to be drawn from the operation was that the police will never ease up in the battle against drug dealers.

"The reason is that we know that people fear that their children will be trapped by drug dealers," he said.

"Therefore drug dealing has a major impact on communities and individuals, and family lives."

But he said Operation Usk was not the end of the road.

"We will continue to deal with the drug dealers as and when we get information which we can work on," he said.

"And we will not hesitate to mount similar operations and invest similar amounts of time and effort to make it clear that drug dealing in Cambridgeshire is an exceptionally high-risk crime.

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