Echo Chief Reporter Katie Feehan headed out with Essex Police yesterday morning as they raided several properties across Basildon and Southend.

ALARM set for 4.30am, I plied myself with coffee before making the drive to Essex Police’s operational centre in Boreham.

Here, more than two dozen officers were awaiting a briefing ahead of a day of action tackling drug dealing and serious crime in the south of the county.

The mission was simple – warrants were to be executed in key locations across Basildon and Southend in the early hours of the morning before the afternoon was spent targeting wanted individuals.

I joined a team which was heading to Trafford House in Basildon where intelligence suggested a suspected drug dealer was based.

After the briefing, we left Boreham in convoy before meeting up with two other vehicles outside Basildon police station.

The other squads would be targeting addresses with known links to the Trafford House individual and the raids were to be carried out simultaneously to avoid any suspects being alerted.

With the officers kitted out, our van headed to Trafford House in Basildon town centre.

Thankfully for the building managers, they spotted the team heading for the lifts and handed them the key to the flat - no big red battering ram needed.

With the flat being on the sixth floor, the entry was simple as there was only one way in and out. Key in hand, the door was unlocked and the team of eight officers stormed into the two-bedroom apartment shouting “police”.

Seven people – including three children – were found inside and the adults were quickly detained while officers explained what was happening.

After more than an hour of searching, officers uncovered dozens of wraps of suspected class A drugs and almost £2,000 in cash.

The stash was hidden in every nook and cranny of the flat, including in shoes and wardrobes, but the diligent search team seized the haul.

One man and a woman were arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply and a second man was arrested on suspicion of possession. They were taken to custody for further questioning.

The professionalism and hard work exhibited by the team showed why the operation has so far been a significant success.