DAWN raids targeted the baby-faced leaders of an Eldene drugs gang accused of making residents lives a misery.

More than two dozen police officers raided three houses in the east Swindon area, seizing around £2,500 in cash, class A drugs worth up to £2,000 and a stash of knives and other weapons.

Insp David Tippetts, who led Friday morning’s police operation, said officers hoped to smash a gang suspected of dealing hard drugs and being behind a spate of anti-social behaviour in east Swindon.

He suggested those leading the gang – commonly known as a line, after the phone line used by addicts to order their drugs – may have been employed as drug runners by city-based County Lines dealers in the past.

This Is Wiltshire:

But Insp Tippetts stressed: “This is not a County Line. This is a local line, being run in a very similar way to a County Line. You’ve got adults running the line with younger children doing the street running.

“It’s causing a lot of anti-social behaviour within the area. Clearly, we don’t want children being used to supply drugs.

“Today is the start of enforcement activity to reclaim some of the public spaces from the anti-social behaviour and continue our investigation and hopefully bring people to justice for drugs supply.”

Officers raided three homes in east Swindon. A man, 20, was arrested at a fourth house on suspicion of supplying class A drugs.

At one home, on Kennedy Drive, Eldene, police found a large hunting knife, around 200 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine, and £2,500 in cash. A boy, 16, was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class A drugs.

This Is Wiltshire:

And on Stubsmead, officers seized cannabis, a samurai-style sword and a baseball bat.

Insp Tippetts said of the raids: “We’ve been looking primarily for controlled drugs, money, weapons, anything that suggest people might be using funds from criminality to complement their lifestyle.

“The weapons are there primarily to protect themselves because they’re vulnerable to being robbed by other users or networks. There can be rivalry between different networks.”

Asked what his message was for the would be Swindon drug lords tempted to set up their own lines, the inspector said: “We will find out who these people are and we will enforce and deal with any information we receive as necessary.

This Is Wiltshire:

“I’m sure nobody wants to see children being exploited - and that’s at the very heart of this.

“We want to make sure children are safeguarded and not enticed into this way of life. Despite the glamour that’s portrayed it’s not very glamorous.”

PCSO Phil Day, Wiltshire Police’s community coordinator for Eldene, said: “These raids are about proving to the community that we’re doing everything we can and taking very seriously any potential risk from the likes of those we’ve visited today.”