POLICE stormed dozens of homes linked to drug dealing this morning in what is thought to be the biggest crackdown on the illegal industry ever seen in the Lothians.
More than 230 officers were deployed to serve warrants on 21 alleged heroin dealers across West Lothian using battering rams to break into properties and detain suspects. The dawn raids – which began shortly after 8am – were based on intelligence-led evidence to target the street dealers and comes in the wake of a series of meetings with community leaders who highlighted drug-dealing as a key priority for making the streets safer.
The raids were carried out in Blackburn, Whitburn and Livingston. Police were targeting two of the biggest drugs gangs in the area.
Police units on the ground were beefed up with air support from a force helicopter, while around eight police horses were also deployed to assist the operation.
It is though 50 homes were due to be hit by police drug squads in a two-hour window – with many raids taking place almost simultaneously.
The police action – dubbed Operation Daylight - was seeking to root out and arrest lower levels of the heroin supply chain for West Lothian. An army of police officers were briefed at an unspecified warehouse in West Lothian at around 7am this morning before teams were dispatched to around 50 addresses in the county to serve warrants for drug dealing.
The blitz was due to be completed at around 10am.
A Police Scotland spokesman said this morning’s operation involved both CID and local officers.
He added: “Police are confident that the chain of supply in the local area has been severely disrupted, with further activity planned over the coming weeks.
“The operation was a direct response following local concerns from West Lothian communities raised to police through a public consultation, which was completed earlier in the year. Police promised to address the sale and supply of drugs in West Lothian, and this has been addressed today, with this significant day of enforcement.
“Police Scotland is also working with our partners in West Lothian Council and NHS Lothian to negate any consequences of this operation. The people arrested today will be detained in custody and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”
West Lothian Area Commander Chief Inspector Paul Cameron said: “Today’s successful operation is the result of our work to address concerns raised to us through a public consultation we conducted earlier in the year.
“We listened to the concerns raised to us and have been working to bring the people to justice. However, there is still more work to be done and we will continue to work to hold the people who peddle drugs in our community to account.”
Detective Superintendent, Specialist Crime Division, Patrick Campbell said: “This operation targeting organised crime was successful due to the multi-agency approach that we have taken to address this issue. Both overt and covert tactics were deployed to impact significantly on the supply of controlled drugs within the West Lothian area.
“Tackling the misuse of drugs and their distribution is a top priority for Police Scotland. We will not tolerate this in our community and we will continue to address any concerns raised to us.”
Last year, we revealed that the number of class A drug seizures across Lothian and Borders had plunged with heroin finds slumping by 35 per cent – from 25.1kg to 16.5kg
The elimination of some of the biggest drug gangs operating in the Lothians was identified as one potential factor behind the trend. The police raids to purge West Lothian of heroin suppliers comes months after a similar blitz was carried out in Wester Hailes.
The swoops in West Edinburgh came after a surge of intelligence following the fatal stabbing of a Robbie Morrison, 31, in August.
Three men were arrested and charged with drugs offences in the swoop as officers seized cash and £1300 of drugs, including heroin, from their homes.
According to NHS Lothian statistics, in 2012 there were 31 drug-related deaths where the deceased was known to have used heroin in the previous year.
NHS Scotland figures revealed earlier this year showed that three babies are born every day in Scotland hooked on class A drugs. Around 1000 drug-addicted mothers give birth every year, passing on serious health impacts to children.
Babies born to addicts require intensive specialist care to cope with fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, as well as the likelihood of dangerous fits within their first few hours of life.