Just as the crime-riddled and drug infested Palma neighbourhood of Son Banya settled down for its afternoon siesta yesterday, the peace was suddenly shattered as 150 police officers raided the shanty town with police helicopters swooping in from the skies. Operation San Quintin was launched at 2.30 pm involving Palma National police and drugs squad agents from Valencia, based on the conclusion to a recent under-cover investigation. Ten houses, suspected of being drug outlets, were targeted to be searched, but because of the hostile nature of the residents, the bulk of the heavily protected and armed police were needed to secure the area and protect their fellow colleagues. The operation lasted three hours. 20 people were arrested with jewellery, cash, illegally held weapons including rifles, various domestic electrical appliances as well as over half a kilo of drugs, mainly heroin and cocaine, were seized. In the past, Son Banya has been a no-go area with the residents living under a law of their own. However, the like of yesterday's operation had never been seen before as armed police lined groups of people against the walls of the crumbling houses and teams of sniffer dogs combed the neighbourhood. For a change, Son Banya offered no resistance, the only incident was when a plate was thrown at a police officer as he started to inspect one of the houses. In accordance with a Palma City Council order, the whole of Son Banya is to be demolished. The council has come forward with relocation packages for local families, but many, especially those involved in crime and the drugs world, do not want to leave the safety of their manor. New council houses are being built in various areas of the city, but the council still has the third and final demolition phase to carry out and that will involve having to force the majority of Son Banya's under world out of the area.
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