Pubdate: Thu, 05 Sep 2002
Source: Eastern Daily Press (UK)
Copyright: 2002, Archant Regional
Author: Richard Balls, Crime Correspondent


It may look like crystallised sugar, but these are lumps of crack 
cocaine  " one of the main reasons behind an upsurge in muggings, car 
break-ins and burglaries in Norwich and other parts of the county.

This is just part of the massive haul of drugs seized during dawn raids on 
properties across Norwich as a result of Operation Break-Up, a concerted 
attempt to drive the drug out of the county before it takes a greater hold.

Officers have already recovered crack cocaine and other Class A drugs with 
a street value of AUKP100,000, and arrested a total of 33 people.

Last Friday, police swooped on seven major suppliers in Norwich and another 
in London, some of whom are believed to have connections with the Yardie 
Jamaican gangster scene.

Even after the publicity surrounding the huge police crackdown, five users 
were arrested today , including two people responsible for a string of 
robberies in the city.

As part of the follow-up operation, uniformed and undercover officers have 
been monitoring city centre "problem areas" including the Memorial Gardens, 
Guildhall Hill and Chapelfield.

Chief Supt John Bainbridge said the commitment of officers working on the 
operation had been "outstanding" and its success was due to months of 
careful planning and intelligence gathering.

"There has been a determination from everybody involved to cause serious 
disruption to the supply of these evil drugs in our community," he said.

"Other related crimes are being tackled as well. Today has also seen the 
arrest of two people connected with city robberies.

"I have a message for everyone peddling and using drugs in our county. As 
the initial impact of this operation fades in the public eye, do not think 
we have stopped our work.

"My officers will continue monitoring suspects and gathering evidence on 
the people responsible for the drugs menace in our society. Further arrests 
and disruption to the supply of illegal drugs is an absolute promise."

Rocks of crack cocaine, usually smaller than the largest pieces in the 
foreground of this picture, cost around AUKP25 each and drug treatment 
workers say addicts can spend hundreds of pounds a week on their habit.

Users of the drug, which is a purified form of cocaine, has risen sharply 
in recent months and in force statistics published last month it was cited 
as "a substantial driver in the level of increase in acquisitive crime, 
particularly vehicle crime".

Crack cocaine has become a scourge in other major cities in the UK and the 
operation in Norfolk is aimed at severing the supply line from London and 
driving down the demand by encouraging addicts to seek treatment and 
support from a dedicated centre in Norwich.

A 24-hour helpline run by the Matthew Project, supported by other agencies, 
is available on 01603-764754.
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