ADDRESSES in South Tyneside were targeted today in dawn raids by police investigating alleged drug and money-laundering offences across the North East and beyond.
Seven men and four women were arrested after officers executed warrants at addresses in Gateshead, Sunderland, South Tyneside, Durham, and in the Thames Valley.
Those arrested – aged between 25 and 46 - have been taken into custody at Gateshead, Peterlee and High Wycombe police stations, where they will be questioned later today.
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.
The investigation centres around organised crime groups operating in the North East with criminal links to other areas.
Assistance was also provided by officers from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit in the Thames Valley area.
The operation was supported by the neighbourhood policing teams patrolling in the affected areas, providing reassurance to local residents.
Detective Inspector Paul Colling of NERSOU 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.”