A THIRD person has died and a man has been taken ill after police continue a probe into drugs in Colchester. 

The authorities have moved quickly as part of a drug supply investigation which is being linked to three deaths – two at the weekend and a third on Tuesday.

A fourth man had also taken ill in the city on Tuesday. Thankfully, medics were able to treat him, and he has survived.

Police say they identified a wooded area near the town centre where a drug line was operating before officers were deployed to a nearby residential area.

One man attempted to run from the police as part of the force’s operation before he was taken to the ground and arrested.

A number of significant items were recovered from him, police say.

Two other people were located after officers forced entry to a nearby address.

These people are being treated as victims of cuckooing and are being supported by specialist officers and partners.

Inspector Mark Jones, who leads Essex Police's Op Raptor team in the North of Essex, said: “The speed at which this investigation progressed as a result of three tragic deaths in Colchester has led to three very significant arrests and the seizure of a number of items which will be central to our investigation.

“These arrests – and the one charge secured at this stage – of course in no way make up for the loss of life in Colchester. But make no mistake, if people think they can act above the law and supply illicit drugs in Essex we will take the most robust action available to us. Op Raptor sits within Essex Police's Serious Violence Unit where we have a range of specialist skills to disrupt and dismantle county lines.

Inspector Jones added: “Along with enforcement, the team works tirelessly with our partners to support and safeguard the vulnerable people who are often exploited as part of county lines model. 

“Those who sell drugs cause significant harm in our communities. They may think they can get away with it but we will relentlessly pursue anyone who tries to sell drugs in Essex.”

Police have charged a 20-year-old man from London with two counts of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and possession of a knife.

He was due to appear in Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court today, Wednesday May 15.

As the investigation continued at pace, officers from the Essex and Metropolitan Police Service Op Orochi teams – which specialise in analysing communications data – identified two other people of interest.

During a planned warrant late last night, Tuesday, two men were arrested in Wanstead, East London, on suspicion of drug supply offences. 

Both men remain in custody today for questioning.