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Crime gangs targeted in drug raids

Two men and a woman have admitted drugs charges after they were caught in a series of dawn raids across the county.

The three from Maidstone were among 17 people arrested in a linked sequence of raids at addresses in Kent, Sussex and London.

A third Maidstone man has been arrested and released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Altogether 10 people are facing charges connected to the supply of controlled drugs.

Police said their four-day operation disrupted a major drugs network, believed to involve five London-based crime gangs supplying dealers and users in Kent.

The operation was led by the Special Branch Organised Crime Unit, but involved close collaboration with local forces. It was the culmination of a three-month long, intelligence-led investigation.

Seven arrests were made in London, four in Maidstone, one in Dover, two in Gravesend, one in Dartford and one in Erith.

Seven locations in Maidstone were among 33 premises searched. Police said they had seized cocaine, crack cocaine and amphetamine as well as more than £50,000 cash in an operation involving 100 officers.

Det Sgt John McDermott said: "I’m extremely pleased with the results of this operation. Drug dealers create havoc and misery in the community. They target vulnerable people and greatly affect people’s quality of life.

"Officers from across the force pooled their expertise and resources and worked together to arrest suspects. This is yet another example of many areas of Kent Police working together to reduce the harm caused by the illegal drugs trade."

He said: "Our message to criminals is: We don’t want you in Kent.

"If you come here we will use every available tactic to track you down and bring you to justice. If you think you can get away with it, think again. Whoever you are we will deal with you. By acting swiftly and decisively, we are making Kent a hostile environment in which to commit crimes."

Sgt McDermott added: "We are working hard to reduce the harm caused by the illegal drugs trade and we believe that these arrests will have a significant impact on the supply of drugs in our county. Disrupting and dismantling organised crime groups will undoubtedly enhance people’s safety and quality of life."

According to Home Office quarterly crime figures for April to June 2008, crime in Kent fell by 10.4 per cent or 3,675 offences compared with the same period last year.

• Roy Carr, 35, of Willington Green, Maidstone, admitted two offences of supplying class A controlled drugs when he appeared before Maidstone Magistrates Court on Thursday.

• Isa Richardson,40, of Upper Stone Street, Maidstone, admitted one count of supplying class A controlled drugs. Both have been remanded in custody and will appear before Maidstone Crown Court for sentencing.

• Peter Tilley, 35, of Edmund Close, Barming, Maidstone, has been charged with one count of supplying class A controlled drugs and has been bailed to appear before magistrates.

A third man was arrested but released on police bail pending further inquiries.

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