“They threaten to use petrol bombs,” says vulnerable woman whose Norwich home was taken over by drug dealers
PUBLISHED: 08:36 24 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:27 24 March 2017
Operation Gravity not only targets the most serious offenders involved in dealing and transporting Class A drugs into and around Norfolk, it also works with partners to protect those most vulnerable to drug abuse and exploitation.
Yesterday morning more than 22 police officers took on their biggest raid yet and six people were arrested after police raided three alleged drug hotspots in Norwich.
Inside one of the flats raided, one vulnerable woman told how she had been taken advantage of by drug dealers who had taken over her home - a practice known as cuckooing where a dealer befriends a vulnerable individual and sets up shop in their home, giving them little choice but to co-operate.
“When they come into my house I just sit here, I don’t say nothing or do nothing,” said the woman, who added there could be as many as 10 drug-takers in her small living room at one time. She said it usually began when a friend would introduce her to them and bring them round.
“They don’t go, they don’t listen to me. A couple of hours turn into a day, a day turns into a couple of days and then they’re here and the next thing you know they’re shooting up from your door.
“And if I threaten to call the police I get called a grass, I get threatened.”
She pointed out a large machete, which she said she had been threatened with when she asked people to leave, and police also found a BB gun inside the flat.
“If I phone the police, they’re going to put my windows through. I don’t go out, I’m too paranoid to go out, and if I go out I have to go out with somebody.
“They’re horrible, they don’t care. They just want somewhere to sell drugs. They take over your mind and just prey on people who have got nervous dispositions.
“You get threatened with your home, you get threatened with violence, you get threatened that you’ll have your windows put in, that they’ll petrol bomb your door, pick on your family - even though they don’t know your family you know what kind of people these men are, they can find them.”
Another woman, who was staying at the property, said she had to leave her home in Wisbech due to the same situation.
She said those peddling drugs came from London and used her flat.
“They just use it as a drug den,” she said.
“I can’t go back to my flat in Wisbech, it’s been smashed and it’s been trashed.
“When they’re in your house you can’t go out because they take control of your home, that’s why I’ve had to leave my home. They take over your home, they take over your rooms, they make you do everything.
“They make you go to the shop, they give you £50 a week and they don’t care if you lose your home. I’ve been threatened to be shot.”
Since Operation Gravity launched in December 2016 approximately £35,000 worth of Class A drugs and £40,000 in cash has been seized, along with 21 knives.
Anyone with information about illegal drugs activity should contact Norfolk Constabulary on 101; however, if you have information but want to stay anonymous you can also contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Anyone needing help and support are encouraged to contact the Norfolk Recovery Partnership (NRP) on 0300 7900 227. The NRP provides confidential advice and treatment for adults with drug and alcohol problems, and is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation, The Matthew Project and The Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust.