Police Scotland have arrested 59 people and seized more than £25m worth of drugs as part of the UK’s biggest organised crime operation.
Cocaine, heroin, cannabis, herbal cannabis and thousands of Etizolam tablets have been recovered, along with more than £7m of laundered cash and a number of firearms, ammunition, explosives and industrial pill presses.
The Serious Organised Crime Taskforce has welcomed the successful cross border operation, which is 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.
More than 50 warrants were executed by hundreds of officers at addresses throughout the country as part of the nationwide intelligence-led operation.
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf, chair of Scotland’s Serious Organised Crime Taskforce, commended the work of Police Scotland and its partners.
“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.”Humza Yousaf MSP, Justice secretary
He said: “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.
The operation has also 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 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.”
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.
“The Crown will continue to work with its partners in the Taskforce and across the justice sector to disrupt serious and organised crime.”James Wolffe QC, Lord Advocate
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.”
Gerry Mclean, the NCA’s Regional Head of Investigations for Scotland, said the police activity in Scotland and across the UK was “unprecedented in scale”.
He said: “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.”