The West

Blitz on street drug dealers
Lead: Police enter a Willagee property. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Police on a major crackdown of suburban drug dealers have recovered property valued at tens of thousands of dollars allegedly stolen from Perth homes.

A crack new police team is targeting low and mid-level suppliers in the hope of driving down burglary rates, with stolen items often used to pay for drugs.

That link between drug dealing and property crimes was evident when police found more than $20,000 of allegedly stolen watches and necklaces at the home of a suspected drug dealer in West Perth last week.

Battering ram launches raid

The West Australian was given exclusive access as the organised crime squad's new district response team embarked on raids on people suspected of selling drugs and receiving stolen property across Fremantle and surrounding suburbs.

They estimate the operation has led to the seizure of $2.65 million of drugs, cash and assets, including three homes.

The organised crime squad has traditionally hunted the so-called Mr Bigs of the drug trade but the new team works with local detectives and uniformed officers to target the more visible and "hands-on" low and mid-level dealers.

Acting Det-Sgt Colin Thomas said police hoped that by removing drug dealers they would cut burglaries, thefts and robberies in those areas.

"The people who are dealing from the houses … are having an impact on the neighbourhoods because they're bringing a lot of undesirables to those locations who are committing burglaries … then swapping stolen property for drugs," he said.

Police were finding large amounts of drugs, with 16kg of cannabis, almost 400g of methylamphetamine and 26g of ecstasy seized in recent raids.

Acting Det-Sgt Thomas said arresting those dealers and seizing their drugs also effectively took profits from the heads of syndicates, provided valuable information about their activities and cut distribution networks.

Steroids, counterfeit cash and even a night-vision monocular, which police say burglars use for night-time break-ins, were among other illicit items seized.

Also of concern are the guns and potentially lethal crossbows and compound bows found at the homes of alleged criminals.

In the latest crackdown, 19 people were charged with 33 offences, including three alleged drug traffickers who were previously caught dealing, police said.

Similar crackdowns around Mandurah and Rockingham late last year led to seizures of about $1.2 million of drugs, guns, cash, stolen vehicles and assets.

The West Australian

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