LAHORE - Police have launched an operation against prostitution, gambling, drug dealing, and land grabbing.

A senior official yesterday confirmed that dozens of suspects had been arrested  in massive raids across the city.

The latest raid was conducted in Liaqatabad police area last night in which at least 16 persons including eight prostitutes were arrested as cops stormed a rented apartment.

SP Model Town Muhammad Ismail Kharak said they arrested eight men as they raided a brothel. A woman, named by police as Shamim alias Sheemon Dai, was running the brothel in the low-income neighbourhood for the last couple of months.

As the operation goes on, several large-size banners have also been displayed on various city roads about the fresh police campaign against prostitutes, drug dealers, and dens. The local politicians and communities are asked to help police for the cause.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Amin Wains last week ordered his force to launch the grand operation. The officer, while presiding over a meeting of the field police officers, directed the cops to step up efforts to nick the criminals.  The city police have so far arrested no less than 80 crime suspects identified as drug dealers, land-grabbers, and those running gambling dens and brothels.

A spokesman for the Lahore’s Operations police yesterday said the crackdown was part of the new police strategy to smash the network of criminals. According to the spokesman, at least 54 drug-peddlers were among the 79 persons arrested from various parts of the metropolis. Some 25 persons were arrested for possessing firearms illegally, the spokesman said.

The police teams also seized 30kg charas, 1.59kg heroin, and 2kh opium, and 993 bottles of liquor during the crackdown. Similarly, the police also recovered three rifles, 17 pistols and cash from the arrested suspects.

Security and law enforcement agencies have already widened the scope of operations all over the province as part of national action plan. Police believe the regular security sweep and search operations are helping them unearth gambling dens and brothels in Lahore.

For many years mobile phones provided great services to the prostitutes, pimps, and drug pushers, but now the same bone has become a bane for them as police is using their numbers to catch them.

Most recently, the police uncovered hundreds of mobile phones being used to do business of prostitution in the provincial metropolis. Also, scores of drug pushers were put on the police most-wanted list following the discovery of suspected cell-phone numbers.

Sources revealed that a “special wing” of the provincial police identified the suspected mobile phone numbers after going through the call data of the users. “After proper scanning, the suspected phone numbers are being sent to the local police for swift action,” a police official said but did not explain how they traced the suspected mobile phone numbers.

At least five to 10 suspected mobile phone numbers are sent to each police station in Lahore. For an instance, the divisional police officer sent at least eight phone numbers to the Garhi Shahu police station. The home addresses and ‘activities’ of the suspected cell-phone users are also mentioned in the fresh lists, some of which were seen by this reporter.

Officials say the police compiled the lists of crime suspects after collecting information from different quarters. When asked whether the police were tapping the cell-phone numbers of civilian population, a police officer replied, “The police department has been collecting information about criminals by using all available resources.”

A couple of weeks ago, the local police stations were provided the new lists of active brothels and gambling dens. The area police were asked to intensify crackdown.

According to sources, the use of technology was growing among the criminals as they contact their clients by using handsets. The modern technology is not only helping the criminals widen the scope of their ‘business’ but also it helps police trace and identify the crooks.

Lahore CCPO Muhammad Amin Wains said that the grand operation was launched after proper homework. The police are directed to identity and dismantle the network of criminals, he said, adding, all such raids were being monitored from the police headquarters.

“We are doing a very important exercise to clean the city from social crimes. The citizens will feel a healthy and positive change in the near future. We will take this operation to its logical end. The police raids will intensify with every passing day,” the city police chief maintained.