20 people were arrested this morning at addresses in Birmingham, Reading, Blackburn, Sunderland and London as part of an eight-month long investigation led by Thames Valley Police into the supply of drugs, fraud, money laundering and modern slavery offences.
A further cannabis factory was discovered at an address in Southgate, North London, where two Albanian nationals were arrested, and another arrest was also made at a location in Blackburn, where investigators found a premises they think had previously been used for cannabis production.
Specialist NCA officers – including dog handlers and forensic officers – have worked alongside colleagues from the South Eastern Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and Thames Valley Police as part of the investigation.
Deputy Director Andrea Wilson from the NCA said:
“Today’s activity highlights just how seriously we are taking the threat from Western Balkan organised crime groups. They are involved in various forms of serious and organised criminality, including the trafficking and supply of class A drugs, organised immigration crime and corruption.
“Identifying and targeting these high harm networks requires a whole-system law enforcement approach, and anyone involved in widespread organised crime should take notice that the NCA and partners will do all we can to disrupt their activity and ensure they face justice”.
“Investigating this type of criminality can be complex and time-consuming and this particular operation has been a culmination of months of hard work by officers. Therefore, I am pleased that we have been able to carry out these warrants and make a number of arrests.
“Further, I hope that this serves as a warning to those in the community who are involved in the supply and distribution of drugs as well as the exploitation of people, that we know who you are, where you are and we are committed to bringing you to justice.
“Alternatively, if you would prefer to remain anonymous you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online too.”