Cross Border Drugs Operation Welcomed - Hundreds Of Arrests - Seized Cash Drugs Cars And More
2nd July 2020
Seizure of controlled drugs with a street value of over £25 million.
Cocaine, heroin, cannabis, herbal cannabis siezed.
Thousands of Etizolam tablets have been recovered
Officers have arrested 59 people.
Over £7 million of laundered cash seized
Firearms, ammunition, explosives and industrial pill presses seized
Six stolen cars and a stolen motorcycle have also been recovered.
Crime Officers broke encoded phone message
UK wide and Europe
A top-secret communications system used by criminals to trade drugs and guns has been "successfully penetrated", says the National Crime Agency.
The NCA worked with forces across Europe on the UK's "biggest and most significant" law enforcement operation.
Major crime figures were among over 800 Europe-wide arrests after messages on EncroChat were intercepted and decoded.
More than two tonnes of drugs, several dozen guns and £54m in suspect cash have been seized, says the NCA.
While the NCA was part of the investigation, it was initiated and led by French and Dutch police, and also involved Europol - the EU agency for law enforcement cooperation.
Wil van Gemert, deputy executive director of Europol, told a press conference in the Hague that the hacking of the network had allowed the "disruption of criminal activities including violent attacks, corruption, attempted murders and large-scale drug transports".
The Serious Organised Crime Taskforce has welcomed a successful cross border operation where Police Scotland arrested 59 people and seized more than £25 million pounds worth of controlled drugs.
More than £7 million in cash and firearms, ammunition, explosives and industrial pill presses were also seized, while six stolen cars and a motorcycle have been recovered.
More than 50 warrants were executed by hundreds of officers at addresses throughout the country, as part of a nationwide intelligence-led operation co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency and involving Border Force and police forces throughout the UK.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, chair of Scotland's Serious Organised Crime Taskforce, commended the work of Police Scotland and partners, saying:
"This has been one of Police Scotland's most significant operations, combining the knowledge and resources of local policing with the service's enhanced national capabilities. It also underlines the importance of continued cross-border co-operation in law enforcement, as well as the value of the partnerships forged through Scotland's Serious Organised Crime Taskforce and our highly-prized Scottish Crime Campus.
"Once again the professionalism of Scotland's police officers and support staff is evident in disrupting criminal activities and reducing the harm and misery inflicted on our communities.
"Partners on the Taskforce are resolute in their determination to use all means available to disrupt and dismantle serious organised crime. I would urge anyone with any information about, or suspicions of organised crime in their area to contact the police or to do so anonymously through Crimestoppers."
Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said:"This operation highlights the value of partnership working between the agencies which take part in the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce. Those agencies will continue to use all the means at their disposal to target organised crime groups.
"The operation also demonstrates the substantial benefits which we derive from international co-operation between law enforcement agencies in Scotland and those of other countries - benefits which help to ensure the safety and security of people living in Scotland.
"The Crown will continue to work with its partners in the Taskforce and across the justice sector to disrupt serious and organised crime."
Scotland's Serious Organised Crime Taskforce was established in 2007 and has 18 members - including police, local government, third and private sector organisations, criminal justice agencies and other organisations.
Much of this work is co-ordinated and supported by partnerships at the Scottish Crime Campus, which currently houses more than 20 organisations such as Police Scotland, SPA Forensic Services, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, as well as representatives of several agencies including the National Crime Agency and HM Revenue and Customs.
From Police Scotland
Police Scotland continues to work with partners to severely disrupt the activities of serious and organised criminals operating in Scotland - following the seizure of controlled drugs with a street value of over £25 million in recent weeks.
Cocaine, heroin, cannabis, herbal cannabis and thousands of Etizolam tablets have been recovered and officers have arrested 59 people. Over £7 million of laundered cash and a number of firearms, ammunition, explosives and industrial pill presses have also been seized. Six stolen cars and a stolen motorcycle have also been recovered.
Activity has taken place across the country as part of Operation Venetic - the most significant ever UK operation into serious and organised crime involving Police Scotland, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and police forces across the UK.
The operation has culminated in the takedown of Encrochat, an encrypted global communication service used exclusively by criminals, which offered a secure mobile phone instant messaging service. The company's encryption has now been cracked by an international law enforcement team. In Scotland, more than 50 warrants have been executed by hundreds of officers at addresses throughout the country.
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Angela McLaren said:"Police Scotland's is absolutely committed to disrupting those involved in serious and organised crime in Scotland.
"These intelligence-led proactive operations, which have been undertaken in partnership with the NCA, UK police forces and Border Force, have resulted in some of the largest seizures made by the service.
"Keeping people safe and continuing to make the country a hostile environment for those who seek to bring misery to our communities through their organised criminality remains a priority for Police Scotland.
"This underlines our commitment to the country's Serious and Organised Crime Strategy through the SOC Taskforce and our collective determination to target those involved and strike at the very centre of their illicit operations. Criminals do not recognise borders and we have been working closely with our UK and European law enforcement partners throughout this intense period of activity.
"We recognise the impact that serious and organised crime has on individuals and communities. I would urge anyone who has information that can assist us in tackling criminality, or anyone that needs our help or support, to get in touch with Police Scotland or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
Jennifer Harrower, Procurator Fiscal for Specialist Casework, said:"These recent operations by law enforcement in Scotland exemplify our determination and capability to pursue those involved in serious and organised crime and halt the damage they do to our local communities.
"These seizures and arrests are the result of months of extensive work, but it doesn't stop there. COPFS will use all the available resources to bring to justice those who seek to profit from serious and organised crime. This includes staff and prosecutors who are experts in preparing and prosecuting these kind of cases, and a raft of legislation created in Scotland specifically to target serious and organised criminals.
“Beyond this, we will seek Serious Crime Prevention Orders to provide security for communities when those prosecuted are released from prison, and pursue them for their proceeds of crime to be restored to the communities where they belong."
Gerry Mclean, the NCA's Regional Head of Investigations for Scotland, said:“This piece of activity in Scotland and across the UK was unprecedented in scale. It is without doubt the broadest and deepest ever operation into serious organised crime, with the people targeted at the top end of the criminal tree.
“The NCA has worked with international partners and every single police force across the UK, but the extraordinary results we have had here is testimony to the partnership we have with Police Scotland, the support from COPFs and the strategy set by Scotland's Organised Crime Task Force.
“By working together we have had tremendous success in penetrating organised criminal networks, seizing huge amounts of criminal cash, stopping firearms and drugs reaching our streets and protecting the people of Scotland."
More at the BBC web site
There may be many more arrests coming as police sift all the information gathered.
Full details of the arrests and seizures made