[FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]50 held in drug and theft raids[/FONT] [FONT=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif] Press Association
Wednesday November 14, 2007 4:28 PM[/FONT]
[FONT=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif]Police have arrested 50 people in a series of raids across England in a major crackdown on drug dealers and thieves.
More than 800 officers searched 55 addresses in Southampton, London, Slough in Berkshire, and Solihull in Birmingham.
The raids were the third phase of Operation Phoenix, an 18-month investigation into class A drug-dealing, money-laundering, theft and firearms crime.
Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable Steve Watts said 38 properties were raided in Southampton and 15 in London, plus one in Slough and one in Solihull.
He said Metropolitan Police officers raided addresses in west London, Tottenham in north London, Sutton and Croydon.
He told a press conference in Southampton that the number of arrests are expected to rise significantly and he did not rule out other areas of the country becoming involved in the operation.
Speaking directly to those who have not yet been arrested, Mr Watts said: "You will know by now you are wanted. We have kicked your door down once. We will do it again if we have to and we will find you.
"Save yourself the trouble - hand yourself in now."
Mr Watts said a large amount of property was seized in the raids, but no firearms were found.
The first two phases of Operation Phoenix in 2005 and 2006 led to 88 convictions for drug and theft offences.
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