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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 11:13 GMT
Drug raids arrests total 224
By Catryn Jenkins
BBC Wales News Online

Breaking open the door

A total of 224 people have been arrested in a series of police raids involving around 300 officers across south Wales on Thursday.

Large quantities of class A and B drugs, along with some illegal weapons were recovered in South Wales Police's Operation Arrowhead.

BBC News Online followed one team of officers to find out how what happens during a raid.

It all started at 0700 GMT.

With the streets quiet and dark, a dozen officers listened intently as Detective Sergeant Mark Vaughan briefed them on what they were about to do.

Then it began. Everyone piled into unmarked police cars and headed to the location of the flat in the St Mellons area of Cardiff.

Just a few minutes later, the line of cars came to a halt and the officers, some in uniform, began filing out. The adrenaline was pumping.

No-one spoke, as two burly male officers took the lead, jogging towards the block of flats they were about to search... straight in and up a flight of concrete stairs in less than half a minute.

Weapons
A number of weapons were found at the flat

The silence was finally broken as just one thump with the battering ram opened the door to the flat.

Loud shouts of "police" were made as officers entered, checking every room as they went through combined with the yells and swearing from the occupants as reality dawned.

The council-owned flat was untidy and poorly furnished marked with a strong, dank, stale smell which lingered and seeped down the stairs.

An officer later told me that despite the stink, this was one of the cleaner properties they had searched.

"You have to wipe your feet after coming out of some of them," he said.

A sign on the front door warned people to beware of the dog - the officers took note.

But despite the fact he was a large boxer-type breed, the police were met with nothing more than a friendly wag of its stump of a tail.

He remained in the flat throughout the search unconcerned by what was going on.

Inside the flat, there was a variety of weapons, including a cosh, an axe and a sword.

A table leg had been turned into a menacing weapon with several nails hammered into it.

Drug paraphernalia littered the front room as well as a radio scanner which could be tuned into police frequencies.

In the small kitchen, a cupboard had been turned into a makeshift cannabis factory, complete with high powered lights.

Drugs paraphernalia
Drugs paraphernalia was found in the front room of the flat

Ironically, the only picture on the wall of the bedroom was a police issue poster of illegal drugs.

The occupants of the flat watched as officers searched through their things. They were subdued and calm, until about 12 wraps of Class A drugs were found along with 160 of cash.

Then they shouted abuse and screamed, calming down only after persuasion from the police.

Every nook and cranny was searched in the flat, nothing was left unturned - but officers tidied as they went so that no mess was left.

Finally a sniffer dog was brought to go through the place ensuring that no hidden drugs had been missed before the two occupants were ferried to the police station for questioning after being arrested under the suspicion of supplying drugs.

They were expected to be bailed later on Thursday so the dog was left at the flat until they returned.

Reflecting on what I had witnessed, I was left with the question 'why choose such a complicated life?' - living in such fear that you sleep with an axe by your bed and have a sword behind your front door; always looking over your shoulder in case you are being watched; dawn raids. Grim.




SEE ALSO:
In pictures: House raids
04 Dec 03  |  Photo Gallery


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