YESTERDAY’S raids were the second major instalment of an anti-drugs effort by Burton police unprecedented in its scale.
Operation Nemesis arrived with a vengeance a month ago, when more than 250 police officers descended on Burton to carry out the biggest drugs raids in the town’s history.
A 50-strong convoy of vehicles had assembled, as with yesterday’s raids, at Staffordshire Police headquarters in Stafford, where Assistant Chief Constable Jane Sawyers closed a briefing to the gathered boys and girls in blue by outlining the success of previous Nemesis raids in Tamworth and Stoke.
“It’s Burton’s turn,” she said. “We’re good at this, folks. Time to be proud, to go out there and do what we do best, to take these individuals off the streets.”
After turning heads among the morning commuters, the convoy paused briefly at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium before dispersing to addresses across the town, heralding an unwelcome wake-up call to 17 residents.
With military precision, the assembled vehicles screeched to a halt, to be followed by the sound of smashing glass as officers employed the imposing looking ‘Enforcer’ battering rams to break down the doors of some of those suspected of being ‘major dealers’ in Burton’s drug trade.
Of these, 13 have since been remanded on custody and two released on bail after making preliminary appearances before the courts, but the operation was still far from over.
Little over a week after the first wave of raids, the police were back on the streets imposing what they described as a ‘ring of steel’ around the town, their aim to prevent fresh dealers from seeking to capitalise from the sizeable gap in the drugs market created by taking suspects off the streets.
Chief Inspector Steve Maskrey, commander of the East Staffordshire local policing team, was in Churchillian mood as he briefed the 30 officers deployed to carry out vehicle and person checks at key locations around the town, and to promote the cause of Nemesis.
“We are here today to make sure those people who come into East Staffordshire intent on committing crime get the message that they’re not welcome here,” he told them.
“If there are people coming in and thinking they’re going to fill the void, the message is: ‘No you’re not – we are’.
“So spread the word – we are in charge and these are our streets.”
As a result of this effort, four people were arrested, eight drivers issued with fixed penalty notices for traffic offences and 11 uninsured vehicles seized.
But if suspected drug dealers in Burton who hadn’t already been targeted thought they’d managed to escape, some of them were in for a surprise yesterday…