Men charged after police dawn drugs raids

POLICE have charged five men from North Herts following simultaneous dawn drugs raids across the county yesterday (Wednesday).

Around 50 police officers – all wearing stab vests – set out in teams to storm properties, many of which were in Letchworth GC, Hitchin, Baldock, Stevenage and Stotfold, at around 6.20am, in a planned operation that was the culmination of more than five months of gathering evidence.

After 12 arrests, three men from Letchworth GC and two men from Hitchin have been charged with drug offences or possession of criminal property, including intent to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

Interviews with other suspects, currently being held in custody, are ongoing.

Five addresses in Letchworth GC – Glebe Road, Middlesfields, Avocet, Bursland and Campers Avenue – were targeted during ‘Operation Absolve’, as well as Eisenburg Close in Baldock, Willian Road, Hitchin, Hopton Road in Stevenage, and Hitchin Road, Stotfold. Another address in Edgware was also raided.

The large scale operation used two dog units during the raids, as well as Enforcer battering rams to force entry when necessary.

Tactical team inspector Nick Caveney said: “The raids have been really successful and the culmination of a number of months of covert police investigations.”

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Letchworth, Baldock and Royston neighbourhood inspector Jason Thorne added: “By taking these actions, we are working to significantly reduce the overall harm caused by drugs in communities.

“Part of our operation is to let drug users know that there is help out there if they want it.

“As a result, following these arrests, we are sending text messages out to people who may be drug users to let them know how to access that help and support.”

*Kalpit Lehal, 29, of Glebe Road, Letchworth GC, was charged with drugs offences and has been remanded in custody.

*Mark Lidbetter, 24, of Campers Avenue, Letchworth GC, was charged with drugs offences.

*Matthew Campbell, of Benchley Hill, Hitchin, was charged with two counts of supplying Class A drugs, attempting to receive stolen goods, being concerned in attempted handling of stolen goods and theft from a person.

*Roshan Archibald, 22, of Willian Road, Hitchin, was charged with drugs offences and has been remanded in custody.

*Karl Sperry, 20, of Common View, Letchworth GC, was charged with possession of criminal property and has been bailed.