More than £60k seized in Wiltshire Police operation targeting organised crime

ALMOST 40 arrests were made and more than £60,000 in cash seized during a police operation targeting organised crime gangs (OCGs) in Wiltshire.

The final results for Operation Scorpion – which fed into Operation Mille, a nationally coordinated operation to conduct 1,000 warrants to disrupt OCGs – were released last week.

Wiltshire Police said the results demonstrated the significant impact that the Force is having in disrupting drug lines, taking out key sources of revenue for local OCGs and showing that there is no place for drugs in Swindon or across the county.

The operation was particularly targeting the cultivation of cannabis, often a key source of illicit income for OCGs involved in other serious and organised crime, such as Class A drug dealing and the exploitation of vulnerable people through modern slavery, the force said.

Across the period, Wiltshire Police:
Executed 26 warrants
Arrested 39 people
Charged 10 people
Seized 111.86kg of cannabis
Seized 1.32kg of cocaine
Seized £63,195 in cash

Det Supt Ben Mant said: “The perception that cannabis cultivation and the smoking of it is victimless couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Drug trafficking is a major source of revenue for organised crime gangs, funding other elements of serious and organised crime such as firearms and modern slavery.

“It’s for that reason that warrants, arrests and charges relating to cannabis cultivation have a much wider disruptive impact on organised criminal activity.

“These disruptions and warrants successfully disrupted a significant amount of criminal activity, including a single haul of more than 100kg of cannabis seized from a gang operating from Swindon and Yorkshire.

“The intelligence gathered from the operation also enable us to build up a greater picture of the illegal activity happening across our county and inform where we can target our future operational activity.”

Operation Scorpion is a collaboration between five police forces in the South West region, alongside their respective offices of Police and Crime Commissioners, the British Transport Police, South West Regional Organised Crime Unit and the charity, CrimeStoppers.

The partnership combines resources to tackle drug supply across the region and make the South West a hostile environment for drugs, Wiltshire Police added.

Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, said: “Communities are destroyed by drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour, not to mention the impact this has on vulnerable people who end up being used and intimidated by criminal gangs.

“Listening to residents’ concerns was key in the strategic focus in my police and crime plan for Wiltshire Police and officers will continue to disrupt drug supplies, robustly deal with criminals and rid our streets of drugs.

“In Wiltshire, both the Chief Constable and I are determined the focus on ensuring Wiltshire has a zero-tolerance approach to this type of criminality, alongside the collaborative approach between myself and the other PCCs.

“This will reinforce the message that no matter where you live in the south west, there is no place for drugs.

“As ever, the key to the success of this latest round of disruptions, arrests and seizures is a direct result of the intelligence gathered, and given to us by our communities.

“My thanks to those officers who have worked on this intensification operation tirelessly to drive down drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour in their areas.”

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