SUSPECTED drug dealers have been arrested in police raids in Eastbourne this week as part of a major crackdown.
Fourteen people were rounded up, arrested and charged with offering to supply or supplying Class A drugs including heroin and crack cocaine.
A house in Norway Road was raided and searched along with a flat on the corner of Grassington Road and Carlisle Road. Suspects were also arrested in the town centre.
The raids – on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – came after a six-month undercover operation involving officers from Eastbourne, Hastings and British Transport Police.
The operation in Eastbourne began on Monday morning when two teams of police officers working with undercover colleagues raided a house in Norway Road.
Neighbours said it was well known that a drug dealer lived at the property with his family. A man was arrested at the house and quizzed on suspicion of supplying heroin and crack cocaine.
Within an hour police officers had forced their way into a flat in a large house in Carlisle Road where a man and woman were arrested on suspicion of supplying crack and heroin. Later that day suspected dealers were rounded up in the town, taken to the Custody Centre in Hammonds Drive, Eastbourne, where they were interviewed by detectives.
Police are hailing the crackdown, Operation Colne, a major success.
Detective Inspector Paul Phelps at Eastbourne said that Sussex Police together with British Transport Police had been running an operation, gathering intelligence on a large number of drug dealers across East Sussex as part of the East Sussex Drugs Reduction Initiative.
“As a result of this work,” he said, “evidence has been collated against key individuals who are involved in the supply of class A drugs.”
He said the Crown Prosecution Service had agreed to charge 35 people - 14 in Eastbourne and 21 in Hastings - with offences of offering to supply or supplying the Class A drugs during the six-month covert operation.
“This is all about disrupting the supply of drugs in the town by taking out dealers,” said the senior police officer.
“Obviously as a result of that, it will have a knock-on effect on drug users so we are working with our partners who work with those users to support them. Ultimately we want to divert the dealers away from a life of crime.”
Eastbourne District Commander Chief Inspector Jayne Dando said the force would continue to act on intelligence and take action against anyone producing, supplying or possessing prohibited drugs or controlled substances.
She said, “Illegal drugs have a huge impact on all communities in the town, not just the health implications for the addicts themselves but for anyone else who may become a victim of crime as a result of some addicts resorting to criminal behaviour to feed their habit. Sussex Police will not tolerate those who deal drugs in our neighbourhoods.”
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Taylor at British Transport Police said, “Our aim is to listen to what the community wants from us and act on their concerns.
“In this instance, drug carrying and dealing on the railway in Sussex was identified as being of concern to local people and this operation with Sussex Police demonstrates the commitment of both forces to addressing this.
“Hopefully the arrests made will serve as a strong reminder of the fact that if you intend to use the railways to transport drugs we will look to arrest you and bring you to justice.”