Raids in Christchurch as part of ‘biggest ever’ UK organised crime bust

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Operation Venetic
Cash seized during Operation Venetic (Photo: Dorset Police)

OFFICERS raided homes in Christchurch as part of what police described as the biggest law enforcement operation in the UK targeting suspected organised crime gangs.

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Following an initial round of arrests, further warrants were executed in the town, as well as in Bournemouth and London, where a large quantity of suspected controlled drugs and amounts of cash were discovered.

Three men aged between 30 and 55, all from London, and a Dorset man aged in his 30s were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.

In total, from all of the warrants in Christchurch, Bournemouth and London, police seized approximately £160,000 in cash, a large quantity of suspected class A drugs and a firearm.

Nationally there were 746 arrests, and £54m criminal cash, 77 firearms and over two tonnes of drugs seized.

Operation Venetic
Drugs seized by police during Operation Venetic (Photo: Dorset Police)

All suspects have been either released on police bail or under investigation pending further enquiries.

The local raids followed Dorset Police working alongside South West Regional Organised Crime Unit and the National Crime Agency.

They were acting as part of Operation Venetic on intelligence uncovered through the takedown of EncroChat, a bespoke encrypted global communication service used exclusively by alleged criminals.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Dilworth, deputy director of intelligence for Dorset Police, said: “The extensive joint work undertaken by a number of agencies as part of Operation Venetic demonstrates our ongoing commitment to disrupt suspected drug dealing in our county.

“We are fully aware of the detrimental effects this alleged activity has on residents in our communities.

“I would like to send out a clear message to everyone that we do not tolerate any alleged drug-related activity in Dorset. We will work incredibly hard to deter any suspected organised crime groups from blighting and damaging our county.”

As part of the operation, an earlier series of warrants were carried out at addresses across Bournemouth.

Seven men, aged between 25 and 42, a woman aged in her 20s and a woman aged in her 40s, all from the Bournemouth and Poole areas, were arrested on suspicion of drugs and firearms offences.

A man aged in his 20s and a man aged in his 40s, both from Bournemouth, were arrested on suspicion of a drugs offence and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

Also, a man aged in his 30s and a woman aged in her 20s, both from Dorset, were arrested in south London on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs. A search of their vehicle located approximately £80,000 in cash.

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