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Police set up ring of steel around Southampton to catch drug dealers
Southampton was on lockdown yesterday as a mammoth police operation was carried out to disrupt the supply of Class A drugs in the city.
Around 150 officers were involved in the “ring of steel” operation which saw all major routes into the city manned by both visible and undercover teams.
The day of action was the biggest so far under the Daily Echo -backed Operation Fortress which aims to prevent dealers, described as the “A-list”, from moving in to ply their trade.
Police also had a heavy presence at the National Express coach station to intercept potential suspects arriving by bus while British Transport Police had teams on the platforms of Southampton Central and Airport Parkway stations to apprehend anyone suspicious.
Last night police chiefs leading the operation revealed:
- Six people were arrested in connection with drugs supply, possession and money laundering offences.
- Nine vehicles were seized for various offences.
- 34 people were detained and searched for drugs.
- Two houses were being searched for evidence.
- Drugs estimated to be worth thousands of pounds on the streets were recovered.
- 45 vehicles were stopped as part of routine checks around Southampton.
The giant suboperation, codenamed Alcatraz, had been weeks in the making and saw specialist firearms and force support officers drafted in to assist.
UK Border Agency officials also took part as well as a raft of local safer neighbourhoods officers, police community support officers and council staff supporting the operation.
The Daily Echo joined a patrol on the eastern side of Southampton where hundreds of drivers were having their license plates unknowingly checked via sophisticated software used in unmarked police vehicles.
Aside from looking for drug-related activity, there were also routine policing checks which resulted in one man having his BMW seized after inquiries found he was driving illegally without insurance.
Operation Fortress was launched earlier this year in response to the rising number of violent crimes, including a handful of shootings and many nearfatal stabbings, which are known to be connected to drugs.
Last night police chiefs said they had achieved significant results including arrests, searches and drug seizures.
Supt Scott Chilton told the Daily Echo : “This was the largest operation to date, targeting those involved in the supply of Class A drugs. The aim was to disrupt them and I think we achieved that.
“The police are determined to work with the public to make Southampton a hostile place to supply drugs.
"Operation Fortress is going to continue and there will be nowhere to hide for those intent on bringing misery to the community.”