Drugs-raid police text users found on hot-line to say supply has dried up
PUBLISHED: 11:11 12 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 06 May 2010
DAWN raids by police on 19 addresses in the district today (Wednesday) follow a 10-month covert operation to disrupt the cocaine market in St Albans. Seventeen men were arrested in the raids from addresses in St Albans, Harpenden and London Colney. St Al
DAWN raids by police on 19 addresses in the district today (Wednesday) follow a 10-month covert operation to disrupt the cocaine market in St Albans.
Seventeen men were arrested in the raids from addresses in St Albans, Harpenden and London Colney.
St Albans new Chief Inspector Richard Hann said: "We have arrested 17 people this morning who we believe were selling cocaine to young affluent professionals from a business that was set up like a pizza delivery service with three 'business' lines."
In addition nearly 670 people believed to be regular cocaine users have received a text message from police using numbers found on the three main 'drug hotline' numbers belonging to people arrested yesterday. The message offers to help them kick their addiction.
CI Hann commented: "We believe this is the first time a police force has sent text messages to people who they believe may be involved in drug use - the text message was targeted at those at the lower end of the drugs market who use cocaine recreationally.
"The message to them is that we would like them to seek help now that we have significantly disrupted the St Albans drugs market - we will not be taking action against them in relation to these arrests."
He added: "We intend to make St Albans a difficult place for drug dealers to engage in this type of activity. As a result of this operation, users will have greater problems getting hold of cocaine locally. The text is a warning that we know they have been involved in drugs. We hope this unusual tactic will encourage them to get help and not lose their affluent livelihoods."
The men arrested varied in age from 17 to 29 and the majority come from St Albans itself.
Central area commander, Chief Supt Alison Roome-Gifford, said: "Herts does not have a large problem with drugs or drug dealing but we know there are drug dealers living and operating within the county, sometimes making lives a misery for their neighbours and supplying drugs to people within our communities."
She urged the public to contact police with any information about suspected drug dealing in their neighbourhood to contact them on 01707 806425 or the non-emergency number on 0845 33 00 222.