POLICE forces across Merseyside, North Wales, and Scotland have launched a series of dawn raids targeting "county lines" drugs gangs.

The operation is believed to be focusing on the illegal supplies of heroin and crack cocaine.

According to reports, searches were carried out at 24 properties this morning in Flintshire, Conwy, and Anglesey in North Wales, and in Liverpool and Scotland.

There have been 16 arrests.

North Wales Police said "serious and organised crime groups" were being targeted.

Earlier this year, the National Crime Agency estimated 100 county lines drugs networks were operating in Wales.

Last month a BBC investigation showed how children in care in St Helens were being targeted by county lines gangs with links to North Wales.

Supt Mark Pierce said: “This morning officers from North Wales Police supported by colleagues from Merseyside have executed 24 search warrants across North Wales and in areas of Liverpool and Scotland.

"The purpose of this morning’s coordinated action is to directly target serious and organised crime groups distributing class A drugs throughout our force area and in line with the force’s vision of making North Wales the safest place in the UK.

“Our commitment to keeping our communities safe remains a priority and I’m sure today’s action will reassure many. 

"I’d like to thank the communities in Flintshire, Conwy, Anglesey, Liverpool and Scotland for their patience, understanding and support whilst the operation unfolds. 

“Distribution of controlled drugs will not be tolerated and we will continue to take positive, robust action, however we can’t tackle this alone and key to all our work is intelligence.

"I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the community sharing their concerns with us.  

"Sometimes that takes a little time to turn into visible action so please bear with us.  We are listening and we will act when the time is right.”

Information can be passed to Police direct via the web live chat north-wales.police.uk/contact/chat-support.aspx or by phoning 101.