Twenty Six Suspected Dealers Arrested

Police have targeted dozens of crack cocaine and heroin dealers who operate in one of the busiest parts of London in an overnight operation.

Officers in Soho made a series of arrests last night before raiding dealers' home addresses in dawn swoops this morning.

It is the second operation of its kind aimed at cleaning up the lively area of the West End, which is popular with tourists and partygoers.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Southworth said:

"My cause celebre is tackling this open drug dealing in the area because it's very closely connected to other serious acquisitives (for example, robbery and theft from the person) and violent street crime.  It's a menace to the public in the area."

Officers have worked for several months to prepare for the crackdown, identifying individual drug dealers.

Mr Southworth said the scene is "quite chaotic", being run as an open market rather than controlled by one gang.

Around 80 to 100 officers were taking part in the operation.

It follows a previous operation in which 30 drug criminals were arrested and convicted.

Officers arrested 26 suspected drug dealers and three people on suspicion of breaching anti-social behaviour orders in the first stages of the operation.

More arrests are expected in the coming days.

Commander Alison Newcomb from Westminster borough said:

"Drug dealing on the streets of the West End or in any part of London can not and will not be tolerated. Put quite simply, if you are coming to the West End to buy or sell drugs, you need to think again."