In just one week British police have seized up to £2.5 million worth of heroin and over 175,000 pints of beer being smuggled in to Britain during a police crackdown on organised crime.
The operation also resulted in the interception of £500,000 police believe to be linked to criminal enterprise, of which £45,000 was taken from passengers arriving from overseas at London Heathrow Airport and St Pancras International train station. So far 11 people have been arrested and about 1,000 vehicles and 300 ships searched.
The Evening Standard reports that the police worked alongside Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Border Force and the National Crime Agency (NCA) on around 550 operational activities during the week-long drive to seize crime-linked cash, weapons, drugs, goods and people being trafficked through ports and stations across Britain.
Border Force Director General, Sir Charles Montgomery said: “This week’s successful activity demonstrates the vital work Border Force officers are doing on the front line every day to protect our national security by identifying and disrupting organised crime gangs and individuals with links to terrorism.”
On Monday officers with sniffer dogs found the 50kg of heroin with a street worth of £2.5 million in a lorry at the port of Harwich in Essex. A man has been charged in connection with the seizure.
Three HGVs carrying about more than 100,000 litres of beer and the equivalent of 10,000 bottles of wine were also seized in Dover. Border Force investigators believe they represent up to £75,000 in lost excise duty.
Braintree & Witham Times reports that a ton of hand-rolling tobacco, 200,000 cigarettes and 92 kg of loose tobacco were found by Border Force searching a cargo aircraft at Stansted Airport yesterday, together with a quantity of Class B drugs.
Roads policing officers using automatic number plate recognition technology (ANPR) to detect and deter criminals were also involved. In the Stansted Airport area Essex Police checked more than 30,000 vehicles with ANPR, stopping 140 for further investigations and detecting more than 40 driving offences.
As well as using tip-offs to identify those working for organised crime and terrorist outfits, specialist Counter Terrorism Security Advisors and officers from Border Force, NCA and HMRC briefed port and station employees on how to spot potential criminals. NCA Border Policing Command‘s deputy director Tom Dowdall said it was “essential” that people working in or just travelling through ports and airports report anything “slightly unusual,” he explained:
“It could be the piece of information that helps prevent the misery brought by drugs, weapons and human trafficking from reaching Britain’s streets.”.
National Policing Lead for Counter Terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, said:
“Everyone has a role to play in defeating terrorism. Those working at ports and involved in ports and travel industries can play an important part in helping to protect the whole of the UK from these threats.”