POLICE say they are seeing a worrying rise in the amount of crack cocaine on Gwent's streets as the supply of heroin continues to dry up.

The Argus exclusively revealed on Monday how the twin factors of the war in Afghanistan and tough policing of class A drug dealers had stemmed the flood of heroin on the streets of Gwent.

But now police say they are seeing growing evidence that dealers are now turning to cocaine as heroin becomes harder to find. "Cocaine is definitely one thing we are seeing more of in Gwent," said Detective Inspector Stephen Webber, (pictured) from the police drug squad.

The drug is at its most deadly and potent in its crystallised 'crack' form where even limited use can leave people with both psychological and physical addiction.

"That is something we are starting to have a problem with, and we are getting information there is more of this around over the past 12 months as heroin is not so readily available."

The reduction in the amount of heroin in Gwent over the past year has led to a rise in drug-related crime particularly dwelling house burglaries in Newport as the price of the drug increases.

And there has been growing evidence that addicts, having to wait up to nine months for treatment in some parts of Gwent, are turning to other potentially lethal alternatives such as the opiate-based heart drug, Nubain, as a substitute for heroin.

And DI Webber backed calls for action to be taken against the Afghan opium farmers, who until recently were the source of an estimated 95 percent of the heroin on our streets.

"In May, it will be the Afghanistan harvest, when the poppies are ready. "We know that in a couple of months we have to be ready for a surge, but I think people in G8 (world's leading economies) should be talking now about what they can do about it.

"Heroin is not freely available at the moment, and this is a chance to take action and do something about it."