Behind the scenes as drug network is smashed in simultaneous strikes
- Credit: Mick Howes
It was a police operation that has combined many months of investigations, information, community intelligence and careful planning.
With six teams of officers striking simultaneously at properties across Lowestoft during early morning drug raids this week, a network suspected of dealing drugs in the town had quickly been smashed.
Within a matter of minutes, five men had been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, which can include cocaine and heroin.
With around 40 officers from across Suffolk Constabulary carrying out raids at six addresses, it saw properties in Edgerton Road, Ashfield Crescent, Homeport and Northgate in Lowestoft searched along with a property on Eades Walk, Carlton Colville and a flat on Cleveland Road, Kirkley.
The properties were all targeted shortly after 9.45am on Tuesday, June 1 - with five men arrested as a "significant amount" of Class A drugs was seized from one property with Class B drugs also found in two properties.
Senior reporter Mark Boggis and photographer Mick Howes joined one of the teams for the pre-planned operation.
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After being briefed, we set off in a small convoy and pulled into a neighbouring road just short of the target address - a flat on Cleveland Road.
There was a tense wait ahead of receiving the order to strike, but soon it was all systems go, as the patrol cars, vans and vehicles raced to the scene.
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A sense of anticipation, mixed with tension, took over.
With the adrenaline pumping, everything moved very swiftly into action as the officers dispersed, with two racing down an alleyway to the back of the property as four officers were deployed to the front door.
As we followed quickly behind, the officers warned the occupants that police were at the scene, before an enforcer - also known as a battering ram or occasionally as 'the big red key' - was used to smash the communal front door open.
The officers, all wearing PPE, then rushed inside and executed the warrant in seconds.
There was no need to use the battering ram on the flat inside, as the person of interest presented himself to police.
A handcuffed male was then escorted into the awaiting police car as the officers then searched the property.
The man, who was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug, has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.