The largest organised crime gang in the Black Country was targeted in a series of dawn raids today.
Police launched an offensive against suspected members of the ‘Raiders’ gang who officers believe are the busiest drug dealers in West Bromwich.Three addresses were hit at just after 6am today by a team of 25 officers, and a cannabis factory containing an estimated £30,000 of the drug was found at property in West Bromwich.
Meanwhile, a substantial amount of class A and class B drugs was discovered at a house in Daisy Walk in Pendeford, Wolverhampton, where two people – a man and a woman – were arrested.
A third suspect continues to be hunted by police today. Sheds behind a house in Grace Road, Tipton, were searched by officers.
Class B drugs and a large quantity of cash was seized from the property.
Inspector Akeel Najib was in charge of the operation this morning, codenamed Operation Astle, which has been pulled together over the past six weeks.
He said: “We believe the targets we were going for are involved in drug dealing and cannabis cultivation, and they are also linked, we believe, to gangs in the area.
“That’s why they are dealing drugs – to make money for the gang.”
He said that around two years have been spent tackling key members of the Raiders gang and trying to disrupt their operations.
It is believed one of those targeted this morning has been using money from drugs to fund an expensive lifestyle. Around 20 plants worth an estimated £30,000 were found at the cannabis set up at the flat on Lily Street in West Bromwich, which is understood to be owned by Sandwell Homes. No-one was inside.
Some of those plants were ready to ‘harvest’ and had been growing for around one month to six weeks, while others were young. Electrical engineers from Eon were called to the property to disconnect the supply.
England flags had been hung outside the entrance to the one bedroom flat to make it appear as though it was a normal home, while stairs leading up to the main living area had been partially barricaded by a sofa.
Inspector Najib said: “Growers are often more worried about other rival gangs coming in and raiding their farms, rather than the police.
“Those renting it out will not pay rent, but they make it look like someone lives there.
“They will make their money before the council realises there is something wrong, the best part of £30,000 per month.”
He added he was pleased with the morning’s operation, saying it removed funds from organised crime, disrupted drug dealing in the area, and also helped to reduce anti-social behaviour on the streets around those houses that were raided.
He said: “The intelligence we have has come from the community, from their concerns around the addresses.
“Over the past 18 months to two years we have been doing a lot of work on organised crime gangs, and this operation is another part of tackling them.”