Police tackling suspected organised crime in Cumbria seized £360,000 in cash as well as drugs with a street value of £230,000 – in just three days.
Five arrests were made in connection with the individual seizures of money, cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis as officers continued the work that goes on all-year-round to prevent drugs getting to the streets.
The results meant 31 kilos of illegal substances were taken out of circulation, where they would potentially help fund further serious crime.
They were made as part of Operation Alliance – Cumbria Constabulary’ work to protect the public against organised crime.
The seizures also came in a week when there was an increased spotlight on suspected drugs trafficking and dealing as part of a national intensification of work around the specific issue of county lines drug trafficking and dealing.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Myers, head of the constabulary’s serious and organised crime unit, said: “Our officers work all-year-round to tackle suspected drug trafficking and dealing.
“This is just a snapshot of what goes on.”
DCI Myers said the force was unrelenting in its pursuit of all drugs traffickers as well as the specific issue of county lines organised crime groups.
County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised networks involved in exporting drugs into other areas, using dedicated mobile phone lines.
He added: “We’ve had a lot of success stopping various drugs criminals and dismantling major county lines across Cumbria in recent years and work with our partners has led to people being taken out of the reach of these organised crime groups and safeguarded.
“This is what our officers do day-in, day-out to tackle and deter crime and keep people safe.”
The seizures were made as part of a number of individual enquiries carried out across the county on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week.
Alongside the drugs seizures, preventative work was also carried out.
This included officers working alongside partners such as The Well, which has hubs in Cumbria and Lancashire and helps people recover from drug and alcohol addiction, and the Children’s Society.
Representatives had stalls at places including train stations, offering advice on how to find help if people had concerns about addiction or exploitation.
DCI Myers added: “Drug supply can involve the exploitation of some the most vulnerable members of the community: children, young people and vulnerable adults.
“The people involved in this world use and abuse our communities and line their pockets by ruining lives and badly affecting the neighbourhoods you live in.
“They blight the lives of the people working for them and exploited by them, cause addiction in the people buying their drugs – and then there are the knock-on effect of anti-social behaviour and associated crime.
“But to keep up that work we need the information and intelligence to keep coming to us.
“Help us to protect your communities.”
Cumbria’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “I am delighted to see this ongoing work by Cumbria Police to tackles serious criminals head on and most importantly taking dangerous drugs off our streets.
“This is often detailed, long and resource intensive work which takes time and most importantly good intelligence but it is dealing with the most dangerous criminals who exploit and abuse our communities.
“Most of us will be unaware of this type of police work but it is important we know it goes on all year round.
“The results published here are a clear message to anyone who thinks they can come and break the law in Cumbria, the police will pursue you and you will be brought to justice.
“The Police work with multiple partners across the county but the most important partner they have in preventing and catching criminals is the public, they need information to build a case and whilst you may not always see the response, every bit of information helps, we can all do our bit to help fight crime and criminals.
“I would urge anyone who sees anything suspicious to report it to the Police on 101 or 999 in emergencies.
“Together we can make Cumbria a safer place to live, work and visit.”
James Simmonds-Read, National Programme Manager at The Children’s Society, said: “Criminals groom young people in person or online and use terrifying threats and violence to force them into crimes such as carrying drugs and fraud or exploiting them sexually.
“We want to highlight how exploitation can happen to any young person, anywhere, and as the nights draw in, we especially urge people to spot the signs of exploitation in public places after dark.
“Young people can be targeted at fast food outlets, forced to travel on trains and in taxis late at night, and are abused behind closed doors, in hotels and holiday lets.
“Whether you are on a night out, commuting home, staying overnight for a business trip, or working as a driver or in customer service, you could be the one that gets help.
“Call the police on 101 or 999 if there is an immediate risk. If on a train text British Transport Police on 61016. Alternatively, you can contact the NSPCC for advice on 0808 800 5000.”
Police are also working to highlight the signs and symptoms to look out for in vulnerable young people.
These could include:
- Travelling alone, particularly in school hours, late at night or frequently
- Looking lost or in unfamiliar surroundings
- Anxious, frightened, angry or displaying other behaviours that make you worried about them
- In possession of more than one phone
- Carrying lots of cash
Do you have information that can help us?
Anyone with information can report online at www.cumbria.police.uk/report-it
You can also phone on 101.
Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.