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24 September 2014, 15:25
Sixteen people have been convicted and given sentences totaling more than 35-years after a major day of action to tackle drug dealing in Southampton.
The operation was intelligence led and culminated in a day of police enforcement a year ago on September 19, 2013 when 22 raids took place at addresses in both Hampshire and London.
The warrants were part of Operation Fortress, the campaign that brings together partner agencies throughout the city to reduce the harm of drug-related violence.
Two hundred police officers and staff were involved along with staff from partner agencies.
Those charged following the enforcement day faced offences of either supplying or being concerned with the supply of heroin or crack cocaine.
One man, Wesley Walters, 26, from Rampart Road in the city was also charged with possession of an imitation firearm which in this case was a taser style device disguised as a mobile phone and capable of discharging 50,000 volts. He received a 5 year sentence.
Detective Constable Simon Woods said:
"The enforcement day was successful on a number of levels. It has taken a number of drug dealers off the streets of Southampton and it led to the seizure of a large amount of drugs and removed a potential deadly weapon from the streets.
"A number of those arrested and charged are now willingly undergoing treatment to help them come off drugs so they can lead better lives when they get released. Several had turned to drug dealing to feed their own drug habits and have been thankful for the help in stopping their problem spiralling further out of control.
"The investigation also provided some important building blocks that allowed two more investigations to get underway into those further along the drug supply chain.
"These have since led to 14 more people being charged with drug related offences. Seven will face trial at Southampton Crown Court on September 29 with the other seven going to trial in March next year.
"The local community have seen the real benefit of the work of Operation Fortress and we continue to see an increase in people reporting drug dealing to us.
"We will continue to do all we can to robustly deal with drug dealers who operate in Southampton."