THIS is the moment police knocked through the door of a suspected crack den in West Swindon last night.

Officers raided two homes in quiet residential streets in a crackdown on cocaine and heroin dealing in the area.

UPDATE: Arrested men released under investigation

The 10pm raids saw around two dozen police officers, PCSOs and civilian investigators hit a family home in Freshbrook and a Westlea flat. Three people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis.

Sgt James Rodrigues, who planned the Thursday night operation, said it had been a successful evening: “We’ve got three people in custody and another who we will invite for interview on suspicion of conspiracy to supply drugs.

“We’ve seized a lot of mobile phones and computers, along with drugs.”

Swindon Advertiser:

The probe was likely to go on for some time: “It’s going to be a protracted investigation.”

At Thornford Drive, Westlea, PC Chris White was first through the door to the ground-floor flat – splintering wood with the force-issue red battering ram.

Officers arrested two men, including a 39-year-old police suspected of peddling drugs. The men looked dazed as they were marched from the two-storey block of flats and into a waiting police van.

Swindon Advertiser:

A suspect is questioned

A search by police and drugs dog Gunnar uncovered cannabis dotted about the flat, amphetamines and drugs paraphernalia consistent with crack cocaine use.

A mile away, in Crawford Close, a team led by Sgt Rodrigues didn’t even have to force the door open. Instead, they knocked and were let in.

A family man, 40s, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs.

Sgt Rodrigues said it was important to hit those suspected of dealing drugs at all levels: “You’ve got a chain of people dealing drugs. You’ve got people who can get hold of what would be considered to be quite a large quantity of drugs. They obviously filter down and get supplied out through local dealers.

Swindon Advertiser:

Cannabis found by police

“The impact on Swindon is absolutely huge. You see it in the town centre, the people after their next quick fix. Some go into a spiral to the extent they are not able to operate. They become very ill, they lose their jobs and before they know it they’re homeless and on the streets.”

He stressed the importance of cracking down on those who deal cannabis – with substantial quantities of the herb found during the raids.

Swindon Advertiser:

Sgt James Rodrigues

“Cannabis is a gateway drug,” he said. “I appreciate you’ll have people who say cannabis has wonderful side effects. But, in my experience, you have people who start by smoking cannabis and before you know it they’ve been persuaded to try crack cocaine and heroin. That’s where the spiral starts.”

He urged members of the public to keep reporting concerns about drug dealing: “We might not act immediately as it’s not always possible because we’ve got to build the bigger picture of what’s happening. Once that bigger picture becomes clearer, we will absolutely act on intelligence we receive.”