Conspiracy to import drugs worth £billions dismantled
Thirteen men have been arrested in dawn raids across England in connection with the UK’s biggest drug supply investigation.
The men, aged between 24 and 59, are suspected of being members of an international organised crime group responsible for importing in excess of 50 tonnes of drugs worth billions of pounds into the UK from the Netherlands.
They were detained in early morning raids on properties in London, Manchester, Stockport, St Helens, Warrington, Bolton, Dewsbury, and Leeds on Tuesday (October 8).
The National Crime Agency worked with Europol, Eurojust, Police of Finland National Bureau of Investigation, Border Force, HMRC and numerous police forces to bring about the arrests of the UK suspects.
Four men and two women from the Netherlands were also arrested in April 2019 by the Dutch National Police on European Arrest Warrants. They are currently awaiting extradition to the UK.
The NCA said the 19 men and women are believed to be part of a well-established organised crime group that used Dutch and British front companies to import heroin, cocaine and cannabis – secreted within lorry loads of vegetables and juice – through UK ports over an 18-month period.
Jayne Lloyd, NCA Regional Head of Investigations, said the 13 men arrested in the UK were involved in an industrial-scale operation – the biggest ever uncovered in the UK – bringing in tonnes of deadly drugs that were distributed to crime groups throughout the country.
Ms Lloyd said the group was part of a supply route that impacted on vulnerable people and County Lines drugs dealing networks across the country.
“By working closely with partners here and overseas, in particular the Dutch National Police, we believe we have dismantled a well-established drug supply route,” she said.
The scale of drug trafficking the men were involved in was uncovered when three consignments were intercepted in September 2018.
They contained 351 kilos of cocaine, 92 kilos of heroin, 250 kilos of cannabis and 1,850 kilos of hemp/hashish, with a total street value of more than £38 million.
The NCA believes the men had imported drugs on numerous other occasions between February 2017 and October 2018.
This investigation is also linked to an NCA operation that led to 13 individuals being jailed for a total of 176 years after the seizure of more than 100kg of heroin in 2015.