SEVEN people were arrested as police swooped on a series of homes across Southampton as part of the ongoing crackdown against drug-related crime in the city.
Teams of officers seized a “significant amount of drugs, cash and property” when they descended on addresses in the central and eastern parts of the city yesterday afternoon, in their operation targeted at cutting violence and offending linked to dealing and the use of illegal substances.
The raids come six months into Hampshire police’s high-profile Daily Echo-backed Operation Fortress, which has seen more than 150 arrests made related to drug activity.
Officers have also seized £84,000-worth of substances and £69,000 in cash.
Yesterday’s raids, carried out after information was received from concerned members of the public, saw members of the Force Support Unit force their way into properties in Blackthorn Road, Merryoak; Bower Close, Weston; Charlie Joy Gardens, Northam; John Thorneycroft Road, Woolston; White Star Place, Chapel; Carpathia Drive, Chapel; and Victoria Road, Netley Abbey.
Sniffer dogs searched each address before teams of specialist officers also looked through the properties hunting for illegal substances, paraphernalia associated with drug taking, cash or unexpected signs of wealth that may point to money being made from dealing.
Officers also spoke to neighbours living near the targeted properties and handed out leaflets to raise awareness of the operation, which has also seen 13 people referred into drug treatment or support services.
Detective Superintendent Kath Barnes, who is leading the crackdown, said: “Operation Fortress has been running since March and it’s going really well.
“As well as all the police enforcement work, Operation Fortress is also about ensuring we’ve got the right structure in place to reduce the demand for drugs and help rebuild our communities free from the fear of drugs.
“Through our Safer Neighbourhoods teams, we’re working with local groups to help clean up communities affected by drug-dealing and the violence and antisocial behaviour that comes with it.”