Thames Valley Police (TVP) has contributed to a major international police operation that has successfully cracked down on organised crime by taking down an encrypted online platform used by criminals.
As part of their contribution, TVP has seized over £300,000 in cash, recovered kilos of class A and class B drugs, including cocaine and cannabis and a number of phones believed to be used in supplying drugs and firearms.
They've also made 20 arrests for offences including supplying drugs and money laundering, while four people have so far been charged,
Detective Superintendent Katy Barrow-Grint, Head of Specialist Operations for Thames Valley Police, said:
“Thames Valley Police is committed to tackling serious and organised crime and will disrupt it wherever we can.
"Our ongoing commitment through our Stronghold campaign means that we will work in partnership with the NCA and the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit as well as other police forces and partner agencies to target this type of criminality and also safeguard anyone we find who has been exploited.
“We know how much Serious and Organised Crime and particularly the distribution and sale of drugs impacts on our communities and the harm it does to people across the Thames Valley.
“This joint work has been hugely successful in seizing money, drugs and firearms, disrupting drug dealing operations, but we will not stop there, we will continue to take action to stop those who seek to make a profit from crime and cause harm to our communities.”
The widespread operation's been led by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Regional Organised Crime Units across the country and in the south east, 45 people people have been arrested in total, while £3.1m has been seized, as well as 86 kilos of drugs.
This regional operation saw South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) work alongside TVP, Hampshire Police, Surrey Police and Sussex Police.
It forms part of the wider "Operation Venetic", which police say has resulted in police intervening in seizing large quantities of illegal firearms and drugs, as well as investigating murder conspiracies.
Assistant Chief Constable Pete O’Doherty, South East Regional lead for Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime, said:
“Operation Venetic, led by the National Crime Agency, has been a success due to the partnership working involved across all of policing, both in the UK and abroad.
“The operations carried out across the South East region would not have been possible without our local police forces involvement and support.
“This has not only been the biggest operation to take place in the South East but the results are deeply significant as well.
"Not only with the goods seized but also the disruption this will cause to serious and organised crime groups operating in our communities.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the SEROCU investigators and all the forces and officers from across the South East for their tireless work.
“These criminals may have felt untouchable, using a system they thought was under the radar of law enforcement, but this technology is now being used against them.
“A committed joint objective by law enforcement across the country will be to continue to keep one step ahead of these criminals.
“There is still work to be done and SEROCU and our partners are dedicated to pursuing those who are involved in serious and organised crime and will continue to disrupt this criminality and bring those found to be involved to justice.”
Operation Venetic saw a previously encrypted global communication service that allowed criminals to liaise with one another via messaging, ultimately shut down.
Millions of messages have now been analysed, with thousands of handsets monitored.