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Hard-line approach sees more arrests and cash and drugs seized

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More than 100 people were arrested in the latest regional drugs operation.

More than 100 people have been arrested and hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs seized as part of the latest phase of a South West regional drugs operation.

A car, spotted by officers travelling through Gloucester and onto Gwent, was intercepted near the border with Wales and had around 7 kilos of class A drugs on board, with a street value of £700k.

Teams from the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU), Gloucestershire Constabulary and Avon and Somerset forces worked together to track the vehicle until they were in a position to strike. The driver has been charged with possession with intent to supply and remanded in custody.

It was one of a number of arrests as part of anintelligence-led operation by SWROCU and supported by all five South West forces – and one of the highlights of a week-long anti-drugs operation initiated by the South West’s five Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and police forces.

Gwent Police, Tarian Regional Organised Crime Unit, and Merseyside Police also played a part in the hit.

Altogether, more than three quarters of a million pounds worth of drugs were seizedand 121 drugs arrests were made during the seven days of raids relating to warrants in Gloucestershire and other parts of the West Country from 27 March to 2 April.

More than £100,000 in cash and contraband was also recovered along with a variety of weapons, vehicles and other equipment used for crime.

In Gloucester, eight shops used as a front to sell drugs were given notice to close. Closure Orders were subsequently granted by the courts, preventing anyone not exempted by the order from entering the premises for up to three months.

This was the latest in a series of week-long operations, part of a regional anti-drugs strategy which launched last year. Officers supported by British Transport Police, HM Revenue and Customs, and Trading Standards, carried out a range of targeted activities and patrols across the region including Gloucester, Cheltenham, Plymouth, Bournemouth, Swindon, Bristol and Bath.

It also adds to the success of three previous operational phases, in which vast quantities of drugs and weapons were seized, a number of arrests made and more than a third of a million pounds in cash recovered.

Superintendent Paul Keasey, Gloucestershire Constabulary, who led the operation, said: “This has been an outstanding week of action with some fantastic results which demonstrate the value of the five forces working together and sends out the strongest message possible that the South West is no place for drugs.

“Not only have we been able to recover a large quantity of drugs and disrupted gangs and individuals who deal in them, we have also taken a number of dangerous weapons off the streets, making the region a much safer place. As well as commending the officers who took part, I want to thank the public who have come forward in their numbers with the information that has made these operations possible and contributed so much to their success.

“Together with our partners we have also sought to strengthen the support and safeguarding activity to the vulnerable, as well as providing educational material to schools detailing the issues and impact of taking drugs.

“The support of the public throughout the operation has been fantastic. Many of the activities delivered were as a result of concerns raised by, or using information provided by, the public. Their support and willingness to share their concerns about illegal activities has allowed us to make the South West a hostile environment for criminals. As demonstrated during the past week, we will always act upon the information communities provide.”

Across the South West there were:

  • More than three quarters of a million pounds worth of Class A and B drugs seized*
  • 121 drugs arrests
  • £109,465 cash recovered
  • 173 weapons taken off the streets

In Gloucestershire, there were:

  • 22 arrests 
  • A mixture of class A and B drugs with an estimated street value of around £30k
  • £7,500 cash and £15,000 worth of tobacco recovered
  • Eight shops, where drugs were being sold illegally, closed
  • Five vehicles impounded
  • A number of weapons and mobile phones used for crime confiscated

Speaking on behalf of the region’s PCCs, Chris Nelson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire said: “The principle of co-operation across our five forces enables us to share best practice and helps tackle the problem of anti-social drugs in our communities. Operations so far have produced excellent results that provide tangible evidence of the value of closer collaboration.

“Commissioners across our region wanted a show of policing strength to demonstrate that we stand by those who say we will not tolerate flagrant law-breaking any longer. Help for those who want to get off drugs is available, but those who persist in dealing and taking drugs in our region will discover that the South West is no place for drugs.

“Our officers also appreciate the renewed focus on proactive operations, and the return to traditional policing that takes a zero-tolerance approach to a crime that has for too long antagonised local communities.”

South West regional drugs intensification weeks are a collaboration between the five police forces in the South West region – Gloucestershire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset. The region’s five Police and Crime Commissioners, the British Transport Police, South West Regional Organised Crime Unit and the independent charity Crimestoppers are alsocombining their resources to tackle drug supply in the region and make the South West a hostile environment for drugs.

Anyone with information about illegal drugs activity should report it to their local police service online or via 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

To pass on information anonymously, speak to Crimestoppers 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year on 0800 555 111 or use their non-traceable online form. Contact will always remain100 percent anonymous.

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