NINE men have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs following a series of dawn raids at properties in Chester, Ellesmere Port and Flintshire.

A total of 45 officers executed warrants at seven addresses in Blacon, Upton, Saughall, Ellesmere Port and Broughton today (June 29).

As a result nine men, aged between 21 and 44, were arrested – one of which was produced from prison – and a quantity of Class B drugs and cash was seized.

They were all arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs between October 2019 and June this year.

The males are currently being held in police custody helping officers with their enquiries.

Detective Inspector Nick Henderson, of Chester LPU, said: "Today's arrests mark the culmination of a lengthy investigation into those believed to be involved in the supply of class A drugs in our city.

"Drugs have a hugely detrimental impact on communities, causing widespread misery. As such, cutting off supplies of illegal drugs and removing drug dealers from our communities is of paramount importance.

"Protecting vulnerable people who are the victims of such crimes is also vitally important to us.

"Today’s operation, conducted by the team here at Chester, will undoubtedly play a crucial role in disrupting serious and organised crime and send out a very clear message that the supply of illegal drugs will not be tolerated."

The raids were carried out by officers from Chester LPU, with the support of a number of Special Constables, the Impact Unit and officers from the Cheshire and North Wales Armed Policing Alliance.

Detective Sergeant Stuart Needham, added: "I would like to thank all of the officers involved in this morning’s operation for their support and I hope that the arrests provide reassurance to our communities that we are committed to doing all we can to tackle this type of criminality.

"There is misery behind every drug deal, and although we do extensive work with our partners to break the cycle of serious and organised crime, we cannot achieve this alone.

"We need the public to be our eyes and ears and to come forward with information regarding drug dealing in their communities.

"Your support is crucial in the ongoing fight against county lines drug dealing and all other forms of serious and organised crime.

"Together we can help to keep vulnerable people and our communities safe.

"Suspected drug dealing activity can be reported directly to the team here at Chester by calling 101.

"Alternatively, if you do not feel comfortable speaking to a police officer then you can give information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

A county line is operated by an organised crime group (OCG) who use a mobile phone, known as a ‘line’ or a ‘graft’ to extend their criminal activity business into new locations - usually from a city into rural areas.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane said: "Preventing and protecting Cheshire’s communities from serious and organised crime has been a key focus of my Police and Crime Plan and I’m really proud of the officers and staff involved in this operation.

"This work wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the strength of our neighbourhood policing model and the local community intelligence that brings.

"We must not forget that these organised crime gangs can prey on vulnerable adults and exploit, coerce and manipulate children to deliver and deal drugs on their behalf.

"We will not allow that to happen in our communities and we will continue to work hard to protect vulnerable adults and children and ensure Cheshire is a safe place."