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Seven people have been arrested in dawn raids in the Cleveland and Northumbria areas this morning as part of a long-running investigation into the suspected supply of drugs.
Five people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Two 42-year-old men and a 43-year-old woman from the Teesside area are being held and a 31-year-old and 24-year-old man from the Bedlington area. Two men, a 40-year-old and a 68-year-old, from the Teesside area have been arrested on suspicion of obtaining money transfers by fraud.
They all remain in police custody in Bedlington and Middlesbrough.
Codenamed Operation Chaffinch, this morning's arrests form part of a larger scale and longer term operation - codenamed Greenfinch - which began in 2010 around the activities of people believed to be involved an organised crime group, primarily based within the Cleveland area.
Detectives from Cleveland, Northumbria and Durham carried out the arrests under the umbrella of the Regional Serious and Organised Crime Unit. They have been working in partnership with officers from the Regional Asset Recovery Team, who are investigating a large scale property fraud that police are linking.
In addition, a property in the Los Alcazares area of Spain is being searched with assistance from enforcement officials there.
The total number of arrests under Operation Greenfinch now stands at nineteen, with officers seizing large amounts of suspected Class A and Class B drugs across Cleveland, Durham, Northumbria and Nottingham over the last nine months.
Detective Superintendent Steve Howes from the Regional Serious and Organised Crime Unit said: "A number of skilled and highly specialist officers have been involved in Operation Greenfinch with the aim of bringing to justice those believed to be responsible for the supply of drugs and conspiracies involved .
"This has been an extremely extensive and detailed investigation across a number of forces in order to keep communities across the North East and beyond safe from the fallout of organised crime."