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£500k cash and 50kgs of heroin amongst items seized in UK ports crackdown

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Fifty kilos of heroin and more than £500,000 has been seized as officers from UK law enforcement agencies have been carrying out a week of heightened operational activity at various air, sea and rail ports as they continue to protect the public from the threat of terrorism and serious organised crime at these key locations across the country.

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Police forces from across the North East region (Northumbria, Durham, Cleveland, Humberside, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire) have been supporting the national heightened activity in partnership with colleagues from Border Force, National Crime Agency / Border Policing Command and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.  Numerous briefings have been delivered to employees working at ports over the past week advising them on what they should be looking out for to help tackle the threat of terrorism and serious organised crime and what they should do if they spot something suspicious.

On Monday June 8 the week commenced with a Project Kraken event in Scarborough which was broadcast live on BBC Crimewatch Roadshow.  Project Kraken is a national campaign which aims to increase vigilance along the UK’s coastline and navigable inland waterways. It encourages the maritime and waterways communities to work together with Police and other agencies, to provide a hostile environment to terrorism and serious organised crime and forms part of the Government’s National Counter Terrorist Strategy, CONTEST.

Officers from North Yorkshire Police including Billy the drugs dog, Border Force staff from Hessle and Teesport, National Crime Agency, Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) and the Harbour Master took part in a port related scenario at Scarborough. The scenario highlighted issues surrounding counter-terrorism, serious organised crime and smuggling / immigration offences. Special Constables visited local businesses and public areas to raise awareness at Whitby, Staithes, Kettleness and Sandsend.  Border Force staff visited boat and vessel owners at Scarborough marina and Whitby to provide Kraken briefings and awareness.

The week’s activity, which was coordinated by the National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters (NCTPHQ), also saw officers from across the UK’s various police forces working closely with partner agencies on around 550 operational activities targeting terrorist-related activity and serious organised crime. Operations were carried out targeting the illegal passage of cash, weapons, drugs, goods and people through British ports linked to criminal or terrorist-related activity.

Approximately £535,000 has been seized across the UK at various sea, rail and air ports during the week. Police and Border Force officers at Heathrow seized around £20,000, which was discovered after seven people were stopped at the airport and approximately €50,000 were seized by police from a traveller who had just arrived at London St. Pancras International station from Paris. Police and Border Force officers, along with sniffers dogs have also seized around £35,000 from across ports in the North West of England, including Manchester airport and Liverpool John Lennon airport. In South Yorkshire around £7000 was seized at Robin Hood Airport.

NCA and Border Force officers seized 50kg of heroin with an approximate street value of £2.5m, following a search of a Heavy Goods Vehicle at Harwich port. The packages were located by an NCA drugs dog, which found them hidden behind a soft panel in the driver’s cab of the vehicle. The driver has been charged and remains in custody while the NCA’s Border Policing Command continues to investigate.

HMRC officers, working alongside colleagues from Border Force at Dover also seized three lorries containing approximately 60,000 litres of beer and 8,000 litres of wine, which is estimated to be worth a potential £75,000 in lost excise duty.

National Police Lead for Counter Terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: “Everyone has a role to play in defeating terrorism and those working at ports and involved in ports and travel industries can play an important part in helping to protect the whole of the UK from these threats.

“With the increased threat of terrorism, this week of activity has shown that the UK’s law enforcement agencies are working closer than ever to protect the public. This work goes on 52 weeks of the year, but as we approach the summer – and what is traditionally the busiest period of the year for our ports – this is a timely reminder of the work that police and others do on a daily basis to protect the public from such threats.”

Border Force Director General, Sir Charles Montgomery said: “This week’s successful activity demonstrates the vital work Border Force officers are doing on the front line every day to protect our national security by identifying and disrupting organised crime gangs and individuals with links to terrorism.

“Border Force continues to work in partnership with the police, HMRC and NCA to tackle the global illicit trade in counterfeit goods and illegal substances as well as detecting British fighters attempting to return to the UK.”

Deputy Director of the National Crime Agency’s Border Policing Command, Tom Dowdall said: “This week highlights the crucial work that law enforcement performs on a daily basis in combatting the scourge of organised criminals that trade in guns, drugs and human trafficking.

“What is essential is the engagement with those working, living in and travelling through the UK’s port and airfield communities. Reporting something slightly unusual could be the piece of information that helps prevent the misery brought by drugs, weapons and human trafficking from reaching Britain’s streets.”

Richard Las, Deputy Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:“We work closely with our law enforcement partners to target crime and protect the UK from tax evasion and fraud, which funds serious organised crime. This initiative has been a major success for all agencies and we will continue to build on our intelligence and investigations into smuggling activities to reassure the public and bring these criminals before the courts.”

As of Thursday, there had been a total of 11 arrests for various offences, including drugs and money laundering offences. Almost 1,000 vehicles and more than 300 vessels have been searched, along with 25 containers and 34 packages across the 55 UK ports. Activity is continuing through to Friday, 12 June.

12 June 2015

Last modified: June 9, 2016