Police seize cannabis farm in new drugs raid

POLICE discovered a cannabis farm in the attic of a house during a second day of raids against a network of alleged drug dealers in the Lothians.

Officers recovered six plants and specialist indoor growing equipment from a house in Penicuik during the swoops yesterday morning.

Nine men and six women were detained during Operation Evolve, which saw the homes of suspected heroin, crack and cocaine dealers targeted across Midlothian. The latest raids bring the total number of detentions to 32, with each suspect, if convicted, facing between two and seven years in prison.

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Police gathered evidence of their alleged drug dealing over 18 months and the dossiers of information will be passed to the procurator fiscal for future court cases.

Crack, heroin, cocaine and Ecstasy, as well as more than 3000 in cash, were recovered during the two-day blitz on two dozen properties in Dalkeith, Bonnyrigg, Gorebridge, Loanhead and Pathhead.

Police chiefs said they had a "100 per cent success rate" in bringing the targeted suspects into custody to be confronted with the evidence against them.

Most of the alleged street dealers were drug abusers themselves and often sold to other users to fund their own habits. Police are also set to carry out financial checks to determine if the suspects have hidden away any profits from the trade which might be recoverable by the authorities.

Sergeant Andy Waddell, who led yesterday's operation on the ground, said: "We decided to take the robust approach of mounting a series of raids to maximise the impact on supply networks rather than do it piecemeal over time.

"This operation was not about recovering large amounts of drugs. We were dealing with amounts that were being sold on a daily basis but that was taking place every day for years.

"We expect that this operation will create a dearth of heroin and other drugs in Midlothian." Police chiefs have liaised closely with GPs to prepare for increased demand for methadone from heroin addicts whose suppliers have been taken off the street.

The force hopes that by working with health professionals and other support groups they can encourage drug users to seek treatment for their addictions.

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A convoy of police vehicles set off from Fettes HQ at 6am yesterday morning to hit the first wave of addresses in Midlothian after officers received their briefing from Chief Superintendent Terry Powell, who led the operation.

A team of officers clad in body armour and helmets were dispatched to one address in Hillside Crescent North in Gorebridge, where a known violent offender was among those on the hitlist.

Police broke down the front door of the flat but found the man was not at home. However, officers quickly found him at another nearby address.

The cannabis plants were recovered at the same time in Chisholm Terrace in Penicuik. The makeshift farm was photographed in the attic for use as evidence before being bagged and taken away. Another series of raids got under way at 11am, including a house in Rosewell Road in Gorebridge.

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