Police have arrested 13 people in St Helens as part of a massive investigation into drug dealing in the town.
Officers targeted addresses in the town centre and Thatto Heath in a series of dramatic raids as part of a six-month operation.
A total of 16 search warrants were executed as police arrested groups involved in the supply of Class A drugs.
The force moved against drug dealers after local people said they were worried about illegal substances being peddled in their neighbourhoods.
Merseyside Police said the two areas targeted had significant issues with heroin and crack cocaine being sold and used.
The drug problems have led to a spike in anti-social behaviour and other drug-related problems in the communities, including teenagers being recruited by the groups.
Today’s arrests are a significant step towards sending a message to those involved in criminal activityDI Jason Pye
DI Jason Pye said: “The Thatto Heath area has itself seen considerable problems with anti-social behaviour which appear to stem from the drug dealing activities of organised crime groups based in those areas.
“The information we obtained from the community painted the picture that the drug dealing was blatant and in many cases done in full sight of members of the public and their children.
“This resulted in the criminals utilising juveniles from the area to assist in their criminal exploits.
“As a result part of the operations focus was to reduce the likelihood of the criminal exploitation of children and juveniles in the local area.
“Today’s arrests are a significant step towards making a difference to the lives of the local community and sending a message to those involved in criminal activity.
“I hope todays activity shows the community that we are listening to their concerns and will act on all information we receive. I would like to stress the importance of reporting these issues to the police and providing information, so we can continue to take action, as we have done today.
“Without this community intelligence we would have been unable to effectively target those responsible.”
The operation, which has been running since April, is a joint collaboration between Titan, the regional organised crime unit, and St Helens CID.
Anyone with information about drug dealing in their community can call Merseyside Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.