DAWN raids have seen tens of thousands of pounds in cash seized in a crackdown on the supply of Class A drugs.
Eleven men from the Houghton and Durham area and another two in Merseyside were arrested in an operation which saw about 200 officers carry out the searches.
The strikes were launched at 6am yesterday as part of Durham Constabulary’s Operation Sledgehammer, which aims to eradicate organised crime.
Those arrested were aged between 28 and 42, with the majority detained on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs.
They remained in custody at police stations across the force area last night after officers began to carry out interviews.
This morning’s arrests took place at houses in St Andrew’s in Houghton, Langdale Street in Hetton, Chester-le-Street and South End in Pittington as well as Consett, South Moor, near Stanley and Ferryhill.
Further searches were made at addresses in The Crescent in Sherburn Village, Marigold Crescent in Bournmoor, Woodland View in West Rainton, and Consett, with £12,000 found at a house in Moorsley Road in Houghton. Searches continued throughout the day at locations, which included two waste recycling sites in Consett.
Temporary Superintendent Colin Williamson, who helped lead the operation, said: “Those who deal in drugs are often part of a wider criminal network, and by taking action against them we are sending out a clear message to others involved in criminality that we will continue to dismantle, disrupt and destroy these networks.
“Over the last 11 months we have dismantled three organised crime groups, seizing cocaine with the street value of £1.3million, cannabis with a value of £745,000 and cash in excess of £200,000.
“Today’s operation was phase three of a long running campaign which would not have been possible without the support of local people who have given us in valuable information.”
Leaflets were being distributed door-to-door in the immediate areas around the target properties by teams of street wardens and police community support officers.