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OPERATION Laser was launched in Rugby this morning (Tuesday) with dramatic effect as 22 homes were raided by police.
So far 19 people have been arrested this morning as part of Operation Laser, a massive operation to stamp out serious and organised crime in Rugby.
The arrests, of two women and 17 men aged between 20 and 40, are all connected with the supply of class A drugs.
At 6.30am this morning officers from Warwickshire Police, supported by police officers from West Mercia Police, executed warrants at 22 addresses - 16 in Rugby and six in Coventry and Birmingham.
The arrests are part of the biggest operation ever undertaken to tackle serious and organised crime by Warwickshire Police, and involved more than 300 police officers and police staff. It is the culmination of nearly 12 months of planning.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Nolan, senior investigating officer for Operation Laser, said: “Today we have given a clear message to give those involved in organised crime and the supply of drugs. We will do everything we can to disrupt the activity of crime groups who cause harm to the local communities in Warwickshire.
“Today we have made 19 arrests. But that is not the end of it, we are also going to use the powers we have to seize assets and money gained from criminal activity.
“Money is the lifeline of serious organised crime and by cutting their supply, we will stop the ability of criminals to continue to commit these crimes.
“But we also recognise that by arresting those who supply drugs to our communities, the people who use illegal drugs within our community will be affected.
“Warwickshire Police is making sure that the drug users have all the guidance they need to get the support and specialist help they need to break their dependency. We are working together with our partners in Rugby and across the county to make sure these services are available.
“Arresting the criminals who supply the drugs, and working with our partners to help drug users kick their dependency, will benefit the community in other ways. Drug users commit crime, including burglary and theft from vehicles, to raise money to buy their drugs. We will continue to work with partner agencies to help those addicted to drugs not to re-offend.
“We also will be working with housing agencies to make sure that properties where drugs were available, are closed down. By reducing the supply of drugs within the local community we will also lessen the opportunity for people to become involved in drugs.”
DCI Nolan explained that some of the success of Operation Laser 2011 has come from members of the public providing information to the police, which has been used to develop intelligence packages on those involved in serious and organised crime.
“It is because of the help of local people that we have been able to put today’s actions into operation. We urge people to continue to provide information, which will help the police to continue to reduce crime in the communities where you live.
Following the early morning arrests today, volunteers have been delivering Operation Laser information to households in Rugby, explaining what the operation is achieving and asking for their continued support in supplying information about criminal activity where they live.
Trailers with the Operation Laser message splashed on them have been sited around the town and plasma screens with the latest information about the number of arrests will be on view at Rugby Borough Council and other locations. Some people will receive Bluetooth messages on their mobile phones with key messages about the operation.
Members of the public will also be able to see a video and photographs of the raids taking place this morning by visiting www.warwickshire.police.uk
DCI Nolan added: “The arrests this morning as part of Operation Laser give a clear message to criminals thinking of committing crime in Warwickshire.
“We know who you are and we know what you are doing, it is only a matter of time before we arrest you.
“We will also be using our powers to seize assets and profits raised through crime. This could result in criminals having to sell their home to repay profits made from crime, or they could find themselves facing eviction if they live in council owned property which has been used for criminal activity.
“Warwickshire Police has already reduced the threat of serious and organised crime in Warwickshire by 42 per cent in the past five years. Two years ago, following arrests in Nuneaton and Leamington as part of Operation Laser, 45 people were convicted and sentenced to a total of 150 years jail.
“This morning Operation Laser has shown that we will not tolerate criminals operating in Warwickshire and we are determined to show that they are not welcome. If they come to Warwickshire, we will arrest them.”
Warwickshire Police is urging anyone who may have information about crime or criminals to call the police on 01926 415000, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
THE RUGBY ADVERTISING WERE OUT REPORTING LIVE FROM THE RAIDS IN BROWNSOVER THIS MORNING.
FOR THE FULL STORY AND PICTURES SEE THURSDAY’S RUGBY ADVERTISER.