TWO arrests were made in St Helens after dawn raids targeted an international organised crime gang responsible for importing in excess of 50 tonnes of drugs worth billions of pounds.

Suspected members of the organised crime group responsible for importing in excess of 50 tonnes of drugs worth billions of pounds into the UK from the Netherlands have been arrested as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into what it describes as the UK's biggest ever drugs racket.

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Thirteen men, aged between 24 and 59, were apprehended during dawn raids today, Tuesday, October 8, in St Helens, London, Manchester, Stockport, Warrington, Bolton, Dewsbury, and Leeds.

A 54-year-old man and a 37-year-old man were arrested in St Helens.

They are suspected to be part of the UK arm 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.

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.

St Helens Star:

Seized drugs

Jayne Lloyd, NCA Regional Head of Investigations, said: “The NCA targets organised crime groups causing the greatest harm to the UK.

“Stopping criminals who don’t care about the damage they are causing in communities, and the children being exploited by County Lines drug dealing, is an absolute priority.

“We suspect these men 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.

“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.”

St Helens Star:

Europol, Eurojust, Police of Finland National Bureau of Investigation, Border Force, HMRC and numerous police forces have also supported the NCA with the investigation.

The full extent of the drug trafficking operation, which the NCA allege these men were involved in, was uncovered following the interception of three consignments in September 2018. They contained 351 kg of cocaine, 92 kg of heroin, 250 kg of cannabis and 1,850 kg of hemp/hashish, with a total street value of more than £38million.

Subsequent enquiries led officers to believe they had imported drugs on numerous occasions between February 2017 and October 2018.

This investigation linked to an NCA operation, where 13 individuals were jailed for a total of 176 years, after the seizure of more than 100kg of heroin in 2015.

Other arrests in today's raids included:

  • Man aged 59 arrested in London
  • Man aged 53 arrested in Manchester
  • Man aged 48 arrested in Manchester
  • Man aged 41 arrested in Manchester
  • Man aged 37 arrested in Stockport
  • Man aged 55 arrested in Warrington
  • Man aged 54 arrested in Warrington
  • Man aged 47 arrested in Bolton
  • Man aged 38 arrested in Dewsbury
  • Man aged 24 arrested in Dewsbury
  • Man aged 46 arrested in Leeds