A CRACKDOWN on drugs gangs in north Essex resulted in more than 50 arrests.

Essex Police seized thousands of pounds worth of drugs as well as cash and weapons over three weeks in March as part of Operation Smuggler.

Using overt and covert patrols, executing warrants and utilising stop and search powers 23 people were arrested in Colchester and 31 in Tendring.

Police also executed a total of 13 warrants and spoke to more than 600 residents, receiving 160 intelligence reports.

Detective Superintendent Leighton Hammett said: "Operation Smuggler was part of our response to knife crime linked to the dealing of drugs and the carrying of weapons in Colchester and Tendring.

“Over three weeks, our community policing teams and Op Raptor team worked with specialist officers from across the force and our partners to target gangs who deal drugs, carry weapons and commit violence.

“We targeted criminals using the road and rail networks, had officers on high visibility and covert patrols, and executed search warrants at addresses where drug dealing was suspected.

“We also used information we gained from the public and our enquiries to target areas linked to drug dealing.

"We conducted 136 stop and searches, resulting in 46 people being dealt with for offences, including possession of knives and drugs."

Part of Operation Smuggler was based around education and officers engaged with young people on the streets about the dangers of gang crime.

Det Sup Hammett said: “Our work to tackle violent crime will not cease, but tackling drug and gang-related crime involves more than just enforcement.

“It is a community responsibility, which is why we work with other organisations to educate people, and support those who are vulnerable to being exploited, to try and prevent such crimes happening in the first place.

“Information is also vitally important, so if you know anyone who is involved or see any suspicious behaviour, please call us.”

Call 101 or report online at www.essex.police.uk/do-it-online.