Published: 20/09/2017 07:00 - Updated: 19/09/2017 13:16

Drug dealers warned: 'We will find you'

Written byGregor White

 

police drug squad
Police force their way into a flat during an early morning drugs raid.

DRUGS with a street value of nearly £150,000 and £6000 in cash was seized by police during a string of raids across the Highlands.

As part of ongoing Operation Ram, aimed at combatting organised crime, officers searched 13 properties over five days last week.

The haul included 11kg of cannabis and 1kg of cocaine as well as Valium, amphetamines, methadone, heroin and crack cocaine.

Doors were battered down across Inverness, in the south Highlands and in Easter Ross. So far there have been eight arrests for drug dealing, but more are expected.

The Inverness Courier accompanied police on a number of raids in the city and saw first-hand how effective the operation was at taking potentially lethal drugs off our streets.

Detective Chief Inspector Michael Sutherland, head of CID and the intelligence and serious organised crime investigations unit in the Highlands and Islands, said the week had been a huge success.

"What is important to stress is that these raids took place largely because the public gave us information which we then investigated and acted on.

"From that point of view, the public should be reassured that we do follow up on the information they give to us and that, by working together, we can make a real difference in getting these kinds of people off our streets."

Many of the raids were carried out early in the morning and Det Chief Insp Sutherland said the aim was to make sure drug dealers "were always uncomfortable".

A number of recent cases have highlighted how criminal gangs from the north of England, as well as the Central Belt, have been trying to gain a foothold in the Highlands.

In July, four members of a drugs gang with its roots in Liverpool were sentenced to between three and four years each after their operation dealing in heroin and cocaine was smashed.

They had been hiding stashes of drugs in woods near Polvanie View, Great Glen Way and Leachkin Brae in Inverness, with the total value of drugs recovered said to be in excess of £200,000.

Det Chief Insp Sutherland insisted police had been good at identifying such operations "very quickly" and taking swift action.

"I want drug dealers to be uncomfortable in our communities," he said.

"They should be looking over their shoulders and knowing that neither the police nor the communities they are based in are going to accept what they are doing.

"As long as we continue to gather and to receive intelligence, we will keep going and those involved in drug dealing should know that.

"They should always be working in the margins and should, frankly, expect their door to be put in at any point."

Police were joined on a number of the raids by Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael and Jim Ferguson, Scottish chairman of Crimestoppers, the independent charity which allows members of the public to pass on information about possible criminal activity anonymously.

Mr Ferguson said it was fascinating to see the officers at work and good to see intelligence being acted on.

"There were some very, very good results across the week and I think this should be very reassuring to the community in that they can see their calls to Crimestoppers are now providing concrete results in the form of seizures and prosecutions," he said.

"The quantities recovered, I am sure, will lead to prison sentences and hopefully we will also get more information on those higher up in the command and control structure of criminal organisations so we can target and disrupt even more of their operations.

"I was very pleased to see the professionalism and dedication of officers involved and certainly very privileged to have been there."

Provost Carmichael said: "The police do a fantastic job, but they can’t prevent and detect crime entirely on their own.

"They need the support of the public to provide valuable information so I would appeal to everyone to please report anything suspicious to either the police or to Crimestoppers.

"You can help to keep your community safe."

Police are available on 101 and Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

  

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