Final arrest haul 47 as Operation Harness delivers message to drug dealers
WILTSHIRE Police has confirmed the total number of arrests made during yesterday's Operation Harness stands at 47.
The county's force undertook the biggest single day of action in its history as more than 400 police officers and staff execute approximately 70 warrants at residential and businesses addresses in Swindon and London.
The operation was the second part of a long term undercover operation investigating the supply of Class A drugs in Wiltshire.
In addition to the results reported yesterday, Wiltshire Police last night seized approximately £50,000 worth of illegal tobacco from an address in Melksham.
Two further arrests were also made last night, bringing the total number of arrests made as a result of this operation to 47.
As a direct results of yesterday’s activity:
• A total of 47 people were arrested (six of these arrests were made in London).
• A large amount of class A drugs were seized.
• £11,500 in cash was seized.
• £65,000 (street value) of illegal tobacco was seized.
• Approximately 70 addresses were raided, 15 of these were in London.
• Over £5,000 in designer clothing/accessories were seized.
• Weapons seized included a samurai sword and a machete seized.
• Number of electrical goods were also seized.
Senior Investigating Officer for the covert operation, Detective Inspector Mike Rees said: “Yesterday's activity sends a strong message out to anyone who sees Wiltshire as an easy target or Wiltshire Police as a soft touch.
“We will not tolerate anyone setting up a drugs network in Swindon or Wiltshire and we will put all of our resources into bringing those involved to justice.
"As predicted, we will continue to locate and arrest those outstanding suspects in the coming days and will not rest until we have completed this task.
“The operation was the culmination of over a year’s hard work from our undercover officers who are putting themselves at risk by associating with known criminals, often without any protection, to build up the intelligence we need for an operation like this.
“I would like to pay my personal respects to these officers – I have total admiration for what they do.”
Operational Commander and Dangerous Drugs Network lead for Wiltshire Police Detective Chief Inspector Craig Holden said: “This activity is just one of a number of tactics we use to disrupt and dismantle Dangerous Drugs Networks across our county.
“As a result of this day of action alone, we anticipate that we have significantly disrupted or completely dismantled more than 15 of these networks operating in Swindon.
“Wiltshire Police have a dedicated team to specifically tackle these networks and we will relentlessly pursue those who are responsible for supplying drugs in our communities.
“We rely on local intelligence and I would urge anyone who has information or suspects that drugs are being sold or used in their neighbourhood to contact Wiltshire Police immediately.”
Wiltshire Police worked alongside a number of partnership agencies during the day of action today including HMRC, UKBA, Swindon Borough Council, drugs charities, local housing associations and the Swindon Community Safety Partnership.
Officers from Home Office Immigration Enforcement team also joined the operation.
As a result, two men were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences. The men are from Afghanistan and Nigeria.
If it is confirmed that they have no legal right to remain in the UK, they will face removal from the country.
Jonathan Watson from Home Office Immigration Enforcement said: “We work closely with the police and other partners to combat illegal immigration and other offending.
“Foreign nationals who are in this country illegally should be in no doubt that they will be caught, arrested and removed from the UK.”
Operation Harness is a long-term collaborative project tackling issues which matter most to our communities. It involves all police officers and staff over a number of organised days of action throughout the year.
Anyone wishing to report suspected drug use or dealing in their area should contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be left anonymously.
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