Eleven arrested after drug and money-laundering raids in Sunderland and Durham

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SEVEN men and four women have been arrested in dawn raids by police investigating alleged drug and money-laundering offences across the North East.

Officers executed warrants at addresses in the Sunderland, Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Thames Valley areas this morning

Those arrested – aged between 25 and 46 years old – have been taken into custody at Gateshead, Peterlee and High Wycombe police stations where they will be questioned later today.

North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit Detective Inspector Paul Colling said: “Today’s operation has been planned for some time and these arrests send a clear message to those involved in the supply of illegal controlled drugs. “Illegal drugs cause misery to our communities and we will seek to disrupt the suppliers wherever we can.

“Organised Crime Groups make huge financial gain from dealing in hard drugs that in the long term cause misery by creating financial problems and health risks for the members of our communities.

“Targeting and disrupting these types of groups is one of the main priorities for NERSOU and we will continue to do so and seek to strip those convicted of their criminally gained assets.”

Officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) supported by their colleagues from Northumbria, Cleveland and Durham police forces took part in ‘Operation Shoomaker’, an investigation into Organised Crime Groups operating in the North East region with criminal links to other force areas.

Assistance was also provided by officers from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit in the Thames Valley Area. The operation has been supported by the neighbourhood policing teams patrolling in the affected areas, providing reassurance to local residents.