Homes in Ellesmere Port, Chester and Wirral have been raided by detectives disrupting organised crime.
The early-morning strike resulted in 18 men, aged between 20 and 49, being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.
All are currently in custody waiting to be questioned by detectives.
Specialist officers are searching 20 addresses including 12 in Ellesmere Port, two in Chester, one in Great Sankey, one in Deeside, one in Dunham-on-the-Hill and three in Wirral which has so far resulted in six cars being seized and controlled drugs being recovered.
The police activity comes following a long-running investigation by Cheshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
Detective Chief Inspector Giles Pierce, from SOCU, said: “Today’s strike is the culmination of 10 months of evidence gathering in connection with three organised crime gangs suspected of supplying and distributing drugs.
“The operation not only centred on drug dealing but also involved a vulnerable adult being exploited. One man, who we believe to have been targeted to deal crack cocaine and heroin for organised criminals, has now been safeguarded.
“The hard work and dedication of officers has disrupted this activity, protected other vulnerable adults and undoubtedly helped to make Chester and Ellesmere Port a safer place for residents who live in these communities.”
Following the raids there will be a visible policing presence in both areas with local officers out on patrol providing reassurance to the public and working hard to prevent other organised criminals filling the void of those arrested.
Officers in Ellesmere Port are working with partners – including Housing, Social Services, Drug Outreach Project, Youth Outreach and others to provide help and support to local drug users and vulnerable people.
Chief Inspector Gary Smith, from Ellesmere Port Local Policing Unit, said: “The disruption of those suspected of being involved in organised crime is fantastic news for those living in our community.
“Today, there will be officers patrolling the streets to ensure the void is not filled by others wanting to take over.
“Just as important is the partnership approach we are taking with Cheshire West and Chester Local Authority to identify and speak to those affected by drug use and the related activity to ensure we have support available to help them.
“This is an opportunity to help people addicted to drugs to take a different path. It is often the lifestyle they become embroiled in that is the hardest to break away from and today we want to give them that chance to break away.
“While we will continue to do all we can to prevent any further drug activity in the area we cannot do this as effectively without the support of the community. I want to encourage people to keep coming forward to report it so we can make the town a safer place to live.”
Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane said: “Preventing and protecting Cheshire’s communities from serious and organised crime has been a key focus of my Police and Crime Plan and I’m really proud of the officers and staff involved in this operation.
“Today’s strike will undoubtedly make our local communities safer.
“This work wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the strength of our neighbourhood policing model and the local community intelligence that brings.
“It is vital that we also address the root causes of these issues and I know our local officers are committed to working with Cheshire West and Chester Council to do just that.”
If you have information please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or Cheshire Police on 101.