FOUR months of extra police patrols were crammed into a two week operation cracking down on violent crime in Essex.

It was part of Operation Sceptre, police's every day work to help keep people safe and catch criminals involved in knife crime, serious violence and associated drugs activity.

Over the last fortnight Essex Police carried out extra work in towns such as Harlow, Grays, South Ockendon, Debden, Loughton, Waltham Abbey, Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, and Brentwood.

There were 74 arrested people for various offences, including 14 for possession with intent to supply drugs, 2,846 extra hours on patrol, seized nearly £18,000 in cash, crack cocaine, heroin, and weapons including a machete and an extendable baton.

There were eight warrants executed under the Misuse of Drugs Act and used stop and search powers where appropriate, plus 11 vehicles seized during routine stop checks.

The operation - which was carried out between March 9 and Sunday - was in addition to the regular police patrols.

Superintendent Craig Saunders said: “Our county is a safe place to live, work and visit and we are determined to keep it that.

“This extra focus in West Essex over the last two weeks was part of our ongoing efforts to target drugs gangs in particular, as they are prone to use violence and exploit vulnerable people.

“We will do everything we can to drive these people out and keep our communities safe.”

Officers stopped a Mercedes in Shevon Way, Brentwood, on Thursday 12 March and spoke to the driver and passenger, who were acting suspiciously. During a search they found £13,000 in cash and a number of mobile phones.

The men, aged 21 and 30 from Isle of Wight, were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of drugs. They have been released on bail until Tuesday 7 April.

A man was arrested after police were called to reports of a man armed with a knife in Tilbury on Saturday 14 March.

Carl Imms, 42, of no fixed address, was charged with possession of a blade in a public place and two counts of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour. He denied the charges at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on Monday 16 March and is next due to appear at Basildon Crown Court on Tuesday 14 April.

A 60-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in supplying a controlled drug after officers carried out a drugs warrant at an address in Lime Close, South Ockendon, on Thursday 19 March.

He has been released under investigation.

A 19-year-old man at the address was reported for possession of cannabis.

Officers seized suspected cannabis and around £1,200 in cash after searching a car in Harlow during patrols on Tuesday 17 March.

They stopped and searched the Volkswagen Polo in Broadfield and arrested the four men inside on suspicion of being concerned in supplying a controlled drug.

All four have been released on bail until Saturday 11 April.

Semega Matoko was arrested on Tuesday 17 March following the incident in the area around Rectory Wood.

Suspected class A drugs were found in his possession and at his home address.

The 35-year-old, of Chelsea Gardens, Harlow, was charged with possession with intent to supply heroin and cocaine.

He admitted the charges when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday March 18 and is due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday April 15.

Two women were arrested on suspicion of drugs offences after officers stopped a Nissan Quashqai in The Lindens, Loughton, on Wednesday 18 March.

The 20-year-olds from Abridge and Sawbridgeworth were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in supplying a controlled drug and possession with intent to supply drugs.

They have been released under investigation.