A HANDGUN has been seized during a major crackdown on the organised supply of heroin and cocaine in Leeds which has seen 17 people arrested in a series of raids across the city this week.
The police operation has seen warrants executed and searches conducted over the last four days at 43 addresses in Harehills, Chapeltown, Seacroft, Gipton, Meanwood, Kirkstall, Woodhouse, Little London, Rothwell and Morley.
Armed officers have been involved in a number of the warrants due to intelligence around the criminal use of firearms linked to the illegal drugs trade.
This week’s arrest phase has followed months of painstaking work to gather evidence on those suspected of being involved in several ‘ring and bring’ drug dealing phone lines behind the supply of heroin and crack cocaine on the streets of the city.
A handgun, drugs, cash, vehicles and more than 60 mobile phones have been seized during searches of the addresses targeted.
Of those arrested, a total of 13 have been charged with offences relating to the supply of Class A drugs. The majority of those have already appeared at Leeds Magistrates Court to be remanded in custody until further court appearances.
Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, said: “This week’s arrest phase is the culmination of a landmark operation designed to deal a major blow to the organised criminal groups behind the supply of Class A drugs in the city.
"These criminal groups are primarily based in the Chapeltown and Harehills area but are linked to the supply of drugs across the whole city and further afield.
“The drugs trade has intrinsic links to the criminal use of firearms which we have seen manifest itself quite noticeably over the last year with a number of discharges in public places which have been down to feuds or turf wars between known criminal factions linked to the drugs market.
“While these have all been targeted attacks with no specific threat to the wider public, we fully recognise the concern that incidents of this nature cause in our communities.
“Investigations by specialist detectives have already seen a number of key individuals linked to those feuds taken out of the equation and facing action through the criminal justice process.
“This latest instalment of our ongoing work to tackle the issue is aimed at building on that previous success to dismantle and disrupt those criminal groups even further.
“We have spent many months in the lead up to this week’s arrest phase, building up a picture around those we suspect of being involved in the supply of drugs that we know fuel crime and anti-social behaviour in our communities and damage and destroy the lives of individuals who take them and, very often, their families.
“We hope this operation will serve to provide some reassurance to the law-abiding majority of people in Chapeltown and Harehills and send a very clear deterrent message to those who think they can flout the law without having to face the consequences.
“We remain absolutely determined to make use of every available tactic to proactively target those we suspect of being involved in organised drugs and firearms crime.
“Information from the community has a vital role to play in the success of this work and we would urge anyone who knows anything that could assist us to get in touch, anonymously if needed via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”