MORE than 200 police swooped in the early hours of Tuesday morning to smash a drugs ring involving half a dozen suspected dealers in Hyndburn.
The co-ordinated raids took place at 5.30am at addresses in Accrington, Oswaldtwistle and Merseyside, and one English man was arrested in Belgium.
Officers had been working for several months to plan the raids, collecting intelligence from local communities to help nail the gang.
A substantial amount of cash was found at various addresses and a number of firearms were also seized during the raids. Detectives are now assessing them to see if they are real or replicas.
The arrests in Hyndburn were made at Whinney Hill caravan park in Altham, Catlow Hall Street, Roegreave Road and Plowtalgh Lane, all in Oswaldtwistle, and Sharples Street and West Crescent in Accrington.
Two more people were arrested later the same day at an address in Glebe Close, Accrington.
Operation Medlar was a joint initiative between Lancashire's Serious and Organised Crime Unit and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency.
Dog-handlers, search and entry cops and specialist firearms officers were all involved in the raids and a total of 16 suspected drug dealers were arrested. A woman from Lancaster is among the suspects.
Nobody had been charged with any offences as the Observer went to press.
Although no illegal substances were recovered during the raids, it is believed that those arrested are suspected of dealing Class A drugs such as heroin.
A police spokesman said that officers were more concerned in finding the people than the product.
Assistant Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said: "This operation demonstrates the commitment of Lancashire Constabulary, working closely alongside other crime agencies, to disrupt organised crime groups and to bring to justice those people who are responsible for committing crime and supplying Class A drugs in the county.
"The arrests will have a significant impact on the supply and distribution of Class A drugs across Lancashire. We rely on the public passing information to us about criminal activity in their communities.
"By working together, police and communities can make a real difference in disrupting serious and organised crime."