Police raided 13 homes in a crack down on street level drug dealers who blight communities.
Homes across East Durham were targeted in dawn strikes after months of covert investigations under Durham Constabulary’s Operation Sledgehammer, the force’s campaign to crack down on serious and organised crime.
Eleven men and three women, all aged between 17 and 44, were arrested on suspicion of supplying Class A and Class B drugs.
A 32-year-old woman was also arrested on suspicion of supplying Class B drugs and a man, aged 29, was arrested on suspicion of four counts of shoplifting.
Homes were searched in Seventh Street, Tenth Street, Eleventh Street, Ash Crescent and Hawthorn Crescent in Horden, Ninth Street in Blackhall, Rosedale Terrace, Welfare Close, Murray Street and Braithwaite Road in Peterlee.
As inquiries continue, police are looking at their next move to clear up the community, turning to the private landlords who own homes rented by trouble tenants to play a part in improving the area.
When I saw the police turn up, I thought it was champion, there’s something getting done.Horden resident
Inspector Sara Baxter, who leads the area’s neighbourhood policing team, said people would see an increased presence of police in the area in the weeks and months to come.
She added: “The residents I’ve spoken to are really happy to see something being done and it’s been a long time coming because lives have been plagued by what’s been going on.
“People might think we’re only here for today, but this is just a starter for 10 and this shows that we are taking action and we are looking at these problems in the long term. “We want to get this area and these streets cleaned up and the landlords know their responsibilities.”
Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This tells the people of Horden and East Durham that we listen to their concerns and are taking action.”
Among those watching on as a series of houses in Eleventh Street were raided was a 78-year-old woman who has lived in the terrace for almost 30 years.
“We’re just absolutely sick of it, there’s dealing all the time, all day and all night,” she said.
“There’s always cars pulling up, shouting all night long, through the letter boxes, just general disturbance, and it’s not just drugs.
“You can’t sell your house, you can’t get out.
“When I saw the police turn up, I thought it was champion, there’s something getting done.
“We kept saying, when will something happen, and I’m pleased to see it, definitely.
“I hope they get some of them out, but the landlords are not bothered who they put in.”
Another resident, a 72-year-old man who lives nearby, said house prices had plummeted because of the “small number” of troublemakers and drug dealers.
He said: “It’s too little too late.
“It’s got out of hand, there’s so much of it going on.
“They need to fine the landlords.
“We were known for the pits, it was a colliery village, now it is the pits and I’m sick of it.
“I’ve lived here all my life and I want out.”
Anyone with any information about potential drug dealing and crime in their area should call Durham Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.