The cracking of an international secret communication network has led to hundreds of arrests for criminal activity, including the arrest of a large number of alleged drug dealers in Dorset.
Following the successful police penetration of the France-based EncroChat messaging system which operated on android phones, the investigation codenamed Operation Ventric was able to track down all those using the system for criminal activity.
18 people arrested
In Dorset, the local police working alongside the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU) and the National Crime Agency (NCA), arrested 18 people and seized approximately £160,000 in cash, a large quantity of suspected class A drugs and a firearm.
In a statement, Dorset Police revealed the details of the three month operation:
“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.
“Following these arrests, a number of warrants took place in Bournemouth, Christchurch and London. A large quantity of suspected controlled drugs and further amounts of cash were located.
“Three men aged between 30 and 55, all from London, and a local man aged in his 30s were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.
“All of the arrested people have been either released on police bail or under investigation pending further enquiries.”
Money seized in police raids
“We do not tolerate any alleged drug-related activity in Dorset”
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.”
Across Europe, Operation Venetic has so far led to 746 arrests and the seizing of £54m criminal cash, 77 firearms and over two tonnes of drugs.