YH ROCU and region’s police forces seize over £5.3 million of cannabis as part of Unprecedented National Campaign
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Officers from the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (YH ROCU) assisted by the region’s four police forces have seized over £5.3 million of cannabis after executing 141 search warrants.
A total of 127 people were arrested for offences linked to the drugs trade as part of the operation targeted at Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) operating throughout Yorkshire and Humberside.
Throughout June, YH ROCU, together with Humberside, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Police located and searched 141 cannabis grows aimed at unearthing and disrupting the OCGs and their illegal revenue streams.
Over 23,000 cannabis plants and a further 26 kilos of cropped cannabis were seized, as well as cash, weapons and other drugs as part of Operation Mille, a nationally-coordinated campaign.
Detective Superintendent Fiona Gaffney, deputy head of the YH ROCU, led the response in Yorkshire and the Humber. She said:
“We targeted these criminal networks who were involved in drug dealing, immigration crime and money laundering as part of a coordinated approach to disrupting their activities and bringing them to justice.
“Working with police in all four Yorkshire and Humber forces, as well as our partner agencies, we were able to tackle the large-scale cultivation of cannabis which is a key source of illicit income for organised gangs.
“There’s a clear link between serious crime and those involved in cannabis cultivation. The drugs trade fuels gang violence as groups compete for territory. They hunt out the opposition and cause misery in our communities.”
The intensification period was designed to disrupt OCGs by taking out a key source of their revenue, while simultaneously apprehending many of those involved, safeguarding those being exploited, and increasing intelligence around how the networks operate.
Results from Operation Mille in Yorkshire and the Humber included:
141 search warrants executed at properties across Yorkshire and Humberside
23,444 plants and 26.35kg seized, worth an estimated £5,351,090
127 arrested – 89 charged so far
One firearm, 90 mobile phones and two laptops seized, plus others forms of electronic devices including CCTV systems, USBs and hard disk drives, as well as significant quantities cash recovered
Numerous Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) enquiries are ongoing
North Yorkshire Police seized:
1,919 cannabis plants from a number of grow locations - circa £800,000 value
17.85 KGs of loose cannabis - circa £120,000 value
£30,000 criminal cash in total
Investigations are ongoing involving a number of suspects who have been arrested
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Simpson, from North Yorkshire Police, said:
"The networks identified by North Yorkshire Police during this relatively short period of action is a snapshot of some of the organised criminality active and now disrupted within the county. Investigations are ongoing seeking to further dismantle organised crime groups.
"The operation was specific in targeting organised criminals responsible for violence, the trafficking and exploitation of people, and all with the end goal of generating large amounts of criminal money to buy expensive homes and cars, expanding further their criminal enterprises."
All 43 police forces across England and Wales, working with Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) and partner agencies, dedicated resources to target the criminal networks involved in cannabis production and other serious criminality.
Steve Jupp, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Serious and Organised Crime, said:
“We know that organised networks involved in cannabis production are also directly linked to an array of other serious criminality such as class A drug importation, modern slavery and wider violence and exploitation.
“This operation not only successfully disrupted a significant amount of criminal activity, but the intelligence gathered will also help inform future law enforcement across the country.
“Cannabis-related crime is often thought to be ‘low level’, however there are clear patterns around the exploitation and violence OCGs are using to protect their enterprises. We also frequently find that cannabis production is just one aspect of their criminal operations and that they are complicit in wider offending which blights our communities.
“Working with law enforcement colleagues in the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement, the ROCU network, and a host of other partner organisations, we’ve not only been able to disrupt the criminal operations of a significant number of organised crime groups, but also increased our understanding of their other criminal activities.”
Cannabis factories also present a very real local threat
The size of criminal cannabis ‘factories’ means that damage is often caused to the properties themselves; the buildings can become dangerous as a result of fire risks, unlawful abstraction of electricity, fumes and water damage.
Anyone with information about a potential cannabis factory or drug dealing can contact their local force online or via 101.