SEVEN men and women, including a suspected cocaine dealer, have been arrested in a bid by police to tackle organised crime gangs.

A week-long operation by Cheshire Police and Halton Housing aimed at tackling county lines gangs has seen a total of seven arrests made across the town for a number of offences, including drug dealing and shoplifting.

Heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis and £450 in cash was seized by officers while a vulnerable adult has also been put into safeguarding by the authorities - having been allegedly exploited by criminals who were using his home to sell drugs.

Among those arrested was a 19-year-old man from Cumbria, who was held on suspicion of possession of cocaine and cannabis with intent to supply.

He has since been released under investigation.

Sixty-one-year-old Vincent Phillips, of Downside, has been charged with possession of heroin and crack cocaine and is due to appear at Warrington Magistrates Court on Tuesday, April 16.

Connor McQuade, of Lower House Lane, has been charged with theft and David Ramanouksi, of Edwin Street, has been charged with two counts of theft.

The pair, aged 38 and 53 respectively, are due to appear before Warrington Magistrates Court on Thursday, April 25.

Thirty-four-year-old Stephen Shepard, of no fixed address, was charged with two offences of theft and failing to appear before a court and has since been jailed for 16 weeks.

Meanwhile a 34-year-old man from Widnes is due to be summonsed to court for drug offences and a 34-year-old woman, of no fixed address, has been recalled to prison.

Sergeant Rob Anderson of the Widnes local policing unit said: “Keeping people and our community safe from organised crime is our priority in Widnes.

“Last week we worked really hard to disrupt those who deal drugs in our community while also protecting those exploited by their activity.

“This type of criminality often means vulnerable adults and children are targeted by criminals to deliver and deal drugs on their behalf after being criminally exploited, coerced and manipulated.

“Breaking this cycle is very difficult, and while we work with our partners it is important the public support us by knowing how to spot signs of criminal exploitation.

“We listen to the public when they provide us with information, and I would encourage the local community to always keep an eye out and if you feel something isn’t right report it to us on 101.”