Eighteen people have been charged following an undercover police operation targeting the dealing of class A drugs.

As part of the covert investigation codenamed Operation Nightjar, undercover officers were deployed in or around licensed premises in Douglas.

They took on the role of drug users looking to purchase Class A and B drugs, and used telephone calls, text messages and social media apps including Snapchat to contact drug suppliers and their associates.

The operation which was focused on dealers active in the island’s night time economy ran between July and November last year.

As a result, between January 30 and February 8 this year, 21 individuals were arrested on suspicion of offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Of these 18 have now been charged with class A drug trafficking offences.

On Friday nine defendants who have entered guilty pleas to being concerned in the supply of drugs appeared in the dock at the Court of General Gaol Delivery.

Their cases were adjourned for sentencing in June pending social inquiry reports.

There are so many of the Operation Nightjar defendants that three days have been set aside for sentencing which will take place on June 17, 18 and 19.

Chief Constable Russ Foster said: ‘Being part of the Common Travel Area enables unfettered access to our island, making us vulnerable to being exploited by organised crime groups who see the Isle of Man is a lucrative market for the sale of illicit drugs.

‘This is not a victimless crime.

‘In order to conduct their illegal activities with the least risks of themselves, the organised criminal groups in the UK, and here locally target young and vulnerable people and exploit them using coercion, intimidation, or even violence, which ultimately forces them into a life of crime.’