Dawn operation targets drug chiefs in Wester Hailes

POLICE today raided a string of homes on a city estate as part of a blitz against heroin and crack cocaine dealers.

More that 70 officers took part in this morning’s operation in Wester Hailes which targeted five suspected dealers in high-rise flats at Medwin House, Dunsyre House and Cobbinshaw House, along with addresses at nearby Calder Gardens and in 

Police climbed stairs to a second floor flat at Medwin House South just after 7am after leaving in a convoy of marked and unmarked vans from Fettes HQ.

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Dog handlers were on hand as the 33-year-old suspect at the flat was known to keep up to four dangerous dogs.

A team of 11 officers in helmets and body armour used a hydraulic ram to batter down the flat door, defending themselves with shields in case the dogs attacked.

A Stafforshire Bull Terrier and a Labrador were later removed after the suspect had been detained.

Officers had been stationed below the windows of the flat in case he tried to throw any drugs from the property.

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The suspect was handcuffed while officers combed the flat for evidence under warrant.

The raids have been carried out as part of a crackdown on “low-level” dealers blighting communities as part of Operation Cipher, a month-long multi-agency campaign aimed at cleaning up the estate.

Lothian and Borders Police said the raids were just the start of a “zero tolerance” crackdown, with more set to follow in the coming weeks.

The targets of the raids, described as “lower level” dealers, were singled out after community work revealed drug dealing was one of the biggest concerns for people in the area.

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Chief Inspector Richard Thomas, who is in charge of policing for the Pentlands area, said: “Today is about showing that we have zero tolerance for drug dealing.

“These are not ‘Mr Bigs’ of drug dealing. They are lower level dealers who may have links to larger crime groups, but they are badly affecting the general atmosphere of the neighbourhood.

“Residents have to live in the same stair where these drug deals are going on. That brings with it antisocial behaviour, people calling at these flats at all hours of the day and other problems. It has left some neighbours afraid to go out to the shops because of the unsavoury characters it 
attracts. These raids are intended to send out the message to the local community and the dealers that this will not be allowed to go on. There are many parents with children staying here and they don’t want to bring their youngsters up surrounded by it.”

Launched yesterday, Operation Cipher is aimed at improving the lives of residents of the Calders area of Wester Hailes and gathering their opinions on how to further help the local community.

NHS staff visited the flats yesterday to provide free health checks and drug and alcohol counselling services, while firefighters were on hand to carry out safety checks.