More arrests and cash, drugs and weapons seized
By Sarah Wood | 6th April 2023
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, with 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 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 an intelligence-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 region's five police and crime commissioners (PCCs).
Altogether, more than three quarters of a million pounds' worth of drugs were seized and 121 arrests were made during the seven days of raids, relating to warrants in Gloucestershire and other parts of the West Country from March 27 to April 2.
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.
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.
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.
"The support of the public throughout the operation has been fantastic. Many of the activities delivered were as a result of concerns raised by the public. Their support and willingness to share their concerns has allowed us to make the South West a hostile environment for criminals. 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
Chris Nelson, PCC for Gloucestershire, said: "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.
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 the non-traceable online form.
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