Police target organised crime

A FARM and homes were searched as part of an operation to rid communities of organised crime.

Operation Ohio was launched as a spin-off to Durham Constabulary’s ongoing effort to deal with organised crime gangs and centred on an investigation into suspected stolen plant machinery and tools.

Pesspool Hall Farm and Pesspool Hall Farm Cottage, in Haswell, and a house, in Milton Grove, in Shotton Colliery, were targeted in raids yesterday morning.

Two men, aged 60 and 26, were arrested on suspicion of money laundering and were questioned during the course of the afternoon by detectives at Peterlee Police Station.

They were released on bail.

A total of 21 quad bikes and motorcycles along with a laptop, mobile phones, manhole covers, engines and vehicle parts were seized under the warrants.

The action was sparked by information from the community and also saw officers from the Environment Agency and planners from Durham County Council take part in the operation.

A leaflet drop was carried out in the villages in the aftermath of the searches to let residents and businesses know what had been going on.

Deputy Chief Constable Mike Barton said: “I’m very pleased because this operation is being carried out by two police constables and they have used their initiative and links with the community to work with partner agencies.

PC Jonathan Keenan, who covers the Haswell area, added: “This action is part of a long-running intelligence-led investigation into organised crime.

“It demonstrates that Durham Constabulary continues to work with local residents and partners in Haswell.”

Councillor Robin Todd, who represents the Shotton ward on the county council and is a member of South Hetton Parish Council, said: “I think the people of Haswell will be pleased to see the police taking this action.”