United Kingdom

Britain's biggest ever crime bus foils 200 gangland murders, seizes £54million in cash and drugs

Britain's biggest ever crime bust has captured 746 crooked kingpins and foiled hundred of plots after raids by every UK police force, with £54 million of dirty cash, two tonnes of drugs and 77 firearms seized after an impenetrable phone network was smashed.

A sting spanning the globe saw scores of raids carried out across the country in a major move in the battle against drugs, guns and illegal activity. During the two-month operation officers seized the illegal cash along with firearms including hand grenade and machine guns.

But it was only made possible after the National Crime Agency and European forces managed to get inside a formerly secure phone system called EncroChat in an operation dubbed Operation Venetic. It is a messaging system, which is similar to WhatsApp, and is only pre-loaded onto special phones which have to be specially bought.  

Criminals paid £1,500 for a six month contract to use them and could send a 'kill code text' which wiped everything on the customised Android handset. Experts in France and the Netherlands infiltrated the illegal communication network, which helped them understand what crimes gangs were planning, like in TV hit The Wire.

In the show one of the police officers built up cases against crooks by using a device called the Triggerfish, which collected data from their phones.

In the real world, investigators found 60,000 users worldwide and around 10,000 users in the UK alone on EncroChat – the sole use was for coordinating and planning the distribution of drugs, guns, dirty cash, money laundering and plots to kill rival criminals. 

It was a treasure trove of evidence as top level criminals could be monitored speaking freely  about their operations and plans, thinking their network could never be cracked.

The company EncroChat is shrouded in mystery, but is based in the Netherlands, and says it has addresses there as well as in Turkey and Latin America.

Scotland Yard said that of the 177 people taken into custody during the operation, 99 people have been charged so far. 

LIVERPOOL: A man was arrested in his underwear during a raid before being questioned by police

BIRMINGHAM: The haul from the nationwide sting found £54million in cash among drugs and guns

LONDON: A total of £13million was seized, including £5million recovered in just one sting, the Met's largest individual seizure

BIRMINGHAM: Officers lead away a suspect among the 132 arrested during the worldwide sting carried out by police forces

BIRMINGHAM: The National Crime Agency and police take part in raid on April 26 in relation to the Encrochat investigation

LONDON: The raids saw 14 firearms recovered, including Scorpion submachine guns and 500 rounds of ammunition

BIRMINGHAM: Officers who carried out the stings brought 1,800 rounds of ammunition into custody stores

LONDON: Footage from the dramatic raids saw armed police storm a variety of properties across the country

BIRMINGHAM: Raids saw gang members taken off streets with police saying they had 'mitigated over 200 threats to life'

WALES: The NCA said crooks had been targeted over a two-month period after the network was compromised

What is the 'EncroChat' smartphone system used by the mafia to move money, drugs and order murders

EncroChat was a secret platform where users were able to communicate privately between specially-designed handsets - often to run drugs, traffick people and even order murders.

These devices, costing £1,500, are usually Android-based smartphones that had their GPS sensors, microphones, and cameras stripped out, encrypted chat apps installed by default to allow people to sent private messages.

It is now emerging that criminal syndicates across the world had one - with one in six of the 60,000 users in the UK.  

Marketed as the electronic equivalent of two people having a conversation in an empty room, it enabled users to send written messages or make voice calls through an encrypted system.

There were thought to be 60,000 users internationally, including 10,000 in the UK, with prices at £1,500 for a six-month contract.

Investigators say that the platform, which was not in itself illegal, was designed to be secure against unwanted outside access, and in the UK was used purely for criminal purposes.

Since the breach, the Encrochat platform has shut down.

According to the Encrochat website, customers had access to features such as self-destructing messages, that deleted from the recipient's device after a certain length of time.

There was also panic wipe, where all the data on the device could be deleted by entering a four-digit code from the lock-screen.

The National Crime Agency said the handset could also be wiped remotely.

Encrochat made sure that there was no way to link the SIM or device to the user's account, and its handsets had no camera, USB data port, GPS or microphone to make them extra secure.

Investigators became aware of the platform in around 2016, but it grew in popularity in the following two years after law enforcement hacked the encrypted Blackberry PGP system.

Before Encrochat, hosted in France, shut down, National Crime Agency deputy director Matt Horne said: 'We assess there are up to 10,000 people in the UK using the Encrochat platform, and we assess that is completely for criminal purposes.

'The platform is provided by internationally based individuals, and it allows those people that wish to participate in having one of these devices to have a specially-designed handset, which is hardened against law enforcement forensic techniques.

'The device has a bespoke operating system, which is designed to frustrate law enforcement's ability to collect intelligence or evidence from these devices. They utilise an encrypted messaging system in order to communicate between criminals.'  

But as they chatted away, law enforcement officers were collecting clues in real-time to collect enough evidence to put them behind bars. 

The Metropolitan Police alone detained 132 people – including some from the most serious organised crime network in the capital - with more than £13.3million in cash seized among machine guns and narcotics.

One of the operations seized £5million in one go – which is the force's largest ever single cash haul.

Many of the arrests were of seemingly-respectable people living luxury lifestyles, but hiding their secret criminal empires.

Incredible footage of one raid showed armed officers deploy nearly a hundred flash bombs in a 1.45am mission two weeks ago on a high-end property in the Home Counties.

Heartstopping bodycam footage shows them get into the building screaming 'armed police' as they gain access, with one man in his boxer shorts standing with his hands up.

He was arrested on suspicion on large-scale importation of drugs and has been released pending investigation. An imitation firearm was seized.

A source said: 'The flash grenades are used to disorientate when police arrive when they suspect the person could be armed.'

The vast Met operation – codenamed Eternal – was made possible through a team-up between the National Crime Agency and European partners.

Data from the encrypted EncroChat phone system was shared with them, identifying a number of serious criminal plots.

The international partnership revealed there were approximately 1,400 London-based users of the secret call network.  

Their handsets had allowed them to plot crimes, but the teams managed to infiltrate it and dismantle the system.

Commissioner Cressida Dick said: 'This operation is the most significant activity, certainly in my career, we have ever carried out against serious and organised criminality across London.

'Organised crime groups have used encrypted communications to enable their offending.

'They have openly discussed plots to murder, launder money, deal drugs and sell firearms capable of causing atrocious scenes in our communities.

'They were brazen and thought they were beyond the reach of the law.

'Organised crime does not respect geographical boundaries.

'Those responsible for it adapt quickly and take advantage of every opportunity.

'This operation has enabled us to target those at the top of the hierarchy and individuals we have known about for years but have not been able to tackle head on.

'This offending has a direct impact on our communities – those involved appear to have an air of respectability, but their actions leave a trail of misery and are inextricably linked to the violent scenes we see play out on our streets. Our investigators, intelligence analysts, firearms officers, Territorial Support Group and our local officers have worked day and night over the past two months to progress our investigations as part of this operation.

'Through this work with our international partners, we have significantly developed our understanding of organised criminality in London and the ways in which some of our most prolific and dangerous offenders operate. 

'This is just the beginning, there are many more people we are investigating. We know who they are and we have seen what they are doing and who they are doing it with. We will not rest until they have seen justice.' 

Elsewhere officers from the NCA, supported by Merseyside Police, arrived at a home in Melling at about 7.30am yesterday morning. 

The action was one of five separate swoops on Merseyside, including in Halewood and Anfield.

All the five warrants in the county were linked, and are connected to alleged high-level drug dealing and firearms offences, with guns used to 'enforce' in criminals' Class A turfs or patches.  

The man arrested in Melling is suspected of working with others on a 'national and international scale,' police added, and 'how it comes back into Merseyside, and those people then control others and how that then leads to misery and corrosive effect on the community.'

BIRMINGHAM: Drugs that were discovered when the National Crime Agency and police took part in a raid on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: A carbine conversion kit that discovered when the NCA and police took part in a property raid on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: Blocks of cocaine discovered when the NCA and police took part in a raid on a property on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: A National Crime Agency leaves a property following a raid on June 26 in relation to the encrypted system

BIRMINGHAM: a gun that was discovered when the NCA and police took part in the raid relating to Encrochat on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: A raid on a property on June 26 related to Encrochat, a military-grade encrypted communication system

BIRMINGHAM: Officers from the National Crime Agency and police take part in raid on a property on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: Officers from the National Crime Agency in the doorway of a property during a raid on June 26

LONDON: Bundles of cash in a plastic bag, in one of the evidence pictures released by the Metropolitan Police

LONDON: Piles of cash are laid out on a bed in one of the evidence photographs released by Scotland Yard

LONDON: One of the guns which was recovered during a raid of a property in the capital

LONDON: Boxes of cash are pictured following one of the raids by the Metropolitan Police

Another of the organised crime groups was thought to have roots in Nottinghamshire, with links into Liverpool. A number of warrants in the county has led to the seizure of 7.5kg in cocaine and heroin, and £620,000 in cash.

How police smashed criminal gangs in the UK, Europe and the UAE by hacking their phones 

Police today dismantled huge chunks of a criminal drugs, guns and people trafficking network spanning the globe after four years of trying.

After two months of planning officers in major cities across the UK simultaneously struck kingpins all over the country.

In April, at the height of lockdown in Europe, police in France and the Netherlands finally infiltrated the EncroChat platform.

The phone system, similar to a walkie talkie system allowed users to send encrypted communications and offered a secure mobile phone instant messaging service believing that they were safe from detection.

There were 60,000 users worldwide and around 10,000 users in the UK – the sole use was for coordinating and planning the distribution of illicit commodities, money laundering and plotting to kill rival criminals. 

But detectives infiltrated the system - and the crime syndicate collapsed like a house of cards in June.

This is what we know about they operation, known Venetic, with 746 arrests, and £54m criminal cash, 77 firearms and over two tonnes of drugs seized so far in Britain. 

This is what we know so far:

March 2020: After four years of work, police  in France and the Netherlands finally infiltrate the EncroChat system . The data harvested about who was used was shared via Europol, to countries all over the world all over the UK.

April and May: Officers continue to take down information from 60,000 users including 10,000 in the UK. There are also a series of raids

June 13:  The owners of the EncroChat system realised the platform had been penetrated and sent a message to its users urging them to throw away their handsets.

June 14: Users are sent a 'kill code' that disables their phones and wipes its memory.

June 15:  Police forces in 30 areas across the UK carry out raids using counter-terrorism armed officers to arrest the bosses of the gangs selling drugs and arms in the UK.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Kirby, who heads up East Midlands Special Operations Unit said they were tracked using Encrochat.

He said: 'It was an encrypted app used entirely by criminals.

'It was used for criminality across what we call 'threat areas' - money, drugs, firearms, and the ability to endanger lives through criminal feuds.

'It is a drugs supply gang dealing in kilos and large amounts of money. It told us about criminal networks in our area and what they are up to.

'They really thought they were safe but it was a gold mine for law enforcement.

'We had the keys to that code and we were aware of everything that was going on.

'It was like the Enigma code.'

There was also action in Northern Ireland where hundreds of thousands of pounds were seized among a 'significant' number of arrests.

Police who carried out 25 searched came away with more than £365,000 in cash, as well as drugs, high-value vehicles, laptops, jewellery and designer handbags.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it stopped more than 15 threats to life as part of the operation.

Five people have so far been charged, four of whom have been remanded in custody and one is on High Court bail.

Detective Chief Superintendent Andrew Freeburn said the operation targeted organised crime groups using encrypted technology in a bid to evade law enforcement.

He declared: 'The organised crime groups thought that by using encrypted technology they could fly below the radar of law enforcement, however this operation should send a clear message that the combined strength of PSNI working in partnership with our law enforcement partners that no-one is beyond the reach of the law.'

Their seizures coincided with five raids by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau across Dublin and Meath.

During the operation, officers recovered €7,000 in cash, a car and encrypted electronic communication devices.

Elsewhere more than 90 kilos of Class A drugs, seven firearms and £88,000 in cash has been seized in Bedfordshire as part of the UK's largest ever operation to combat serious and organised crime.

Twenty-one people have been arrested in the county and 11 people charged so far as part of a major coordinated period of action by law enforcement agencies across Europe.

The business of secrets: The firm behind EncroChat 

EncroChat is based in the Netherlands, but says it had offices in Latin America and Turkey.

While all of its websites have now disappeared, cached versions of the pages give a glimpse into the world its users lived.

Promises of ‘end-to-end security solution’ to ‘guarantee anonymity’ were frequently pledged with utter discretion.

It also insisted its servers were not in the US or any ‘NATO countries’ and were offshore.

The firm positioned itself as a legitimate company with users in over 140 countries, at odds with the criminal revelations of the past 24 hours.

It appeared to realise the game was up three weeks ago and messaged all users on June 13 to tell them to throw away their devices.

Throughout June Bedfordshire Police worked alongside colleagues from the ERSOU to run two intensive days of action against suspected organised crime gangs.

This was followed up today with another wave of enforcement action, with more than 70 police officers and staff involved in warrants across Luton. 

Abroad the Dutch National Police Force carried out raids and arrested more than 100 suspects.

Officers seized over 8,000 kilograms (17,600 pounds) of cocaine and 1,200 kilograms (2,600 pounds) of crystal meth.

It also shut down 19 synthetic drugs labs and confiscated of dozens of firearms, believed to be intended to be used in murders.

Jannine van den Berg, chief of the force, said getting inside Enchrochat had turned the tide on the war on crime.

She said: 'It was as though we were sitting at the table where criminals were chatting among themselves. 

Andy Kraag, head of the Dutch national police's central investigation division, added: 'Now, what seems to be possible only in thrillers and police series we've actually seen happen before our own eyes.

'We've actually been able to see what happens in real time with the criminals.'     

One gang the sting targeted was smuggling guns and drugs through a network spanning Europe and the United Arab Emirates.

In France the operation is called 'Emma 95' and has a 60-strong operation, but has not announced its arrests. The whole investigation is supervised by magistrates in Lille. 

The data harvested from Encrochat was used by specialist detectives to build a case against criminals identified in the chats through analysis of hundreds of handsets and thousands of messages.

Crooks who had been previously completely unknown to the police were among those discovered at the centre of the web of illegality. 

Arrests in 34 separate operations so far in London saw arrests for conspiracy to murder, possession of firearms, money laundering and conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs.

It has seen 99 people charged and 14 firearms recovered, including Scorpion submachine guns and revolvers and 500 rounds of ammunition.

A total of 36 encrypted devices, 620kgs of Class A drugs and 12kgs of Class B drugs were also nabbed by officers.

One compromised network linked international organised crime and serious violence across London through a gang spanning the UK, Europe and UAE importing and distributing cocaine and firearms.

LONDON: Some of the cash recovered from a raid in the capital by officers from the Metropolitan Police and NCA

BIRMINGHAM: A camera operator films as the National Crime Agency and police take part in raid on a property on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: The National Crime Agency and police take part in raid on a property during the Encrochat probe on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: Heroin that was discovered when the NCA and police took part in raiding on a property on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: A member of the raid team holds a battering ram as police take part in the raid on a property on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: The National Crime Agency and police take part in raid on a property on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: A member of the National Crime Agency leaves a house following a raid on June 26 in relation to Encrochat

BIRMINGHAM: The National Crime Agency and police take part in raid on a property in relation to a probe into Encrochat

BIRMINGHAM: Officers from the National Crime Agency, regional crime squads and police forces carry out a raid on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: A National Crime Agency officer comes out of a door as police take part in raid on a property on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: The National Crime Agency and police take part in raid on June 26 relating to the Encrochat probe

LONDON: A gun and ammunition on top of an evidence bag which was recovered during a raid by the Metropolitan Police

LONDON: Stacks of cash found by Metropolitan Police detectives during the international Operation Venetic

LONDON: Bundles of cash discovered during a police raid of a property in the capital by the Metropolitan Police

Where the Operation Venetic raids took place 

A Met spokesperson added: 'This is the most significant operation the Metropolitan Police Service has ever launched against serious and organised crime

'Those arrested under one investigation were identified as being part of the most high-harm OCN in London with long-standing links to violent crime and the importation of Class A drugs.

'The central figures of this group led lavish lifestyles, live in multi-million pound properties with access to top of the range vehicles.

'They appear to be successful, respectable business people but they are dangerous individuals. Our enforcement activity against them reflects this – we used our most highly trained firearms officers and sophisticated tactics to arrest them at their addresses.'

NCA Director of Investigations Nikki Holland, said:

'The infiltration of this command and control communication platform for the UK's criminal marketplace is like having an inside person in every top organised crime group in the country.

'This is the broadest and deepest ever UK operation into serious organised crime.

'The NCA is proud to have led the UK part of this operation, working in partnership with policing and other agencies. The results have been outstanding but this is just the start.

'A dedicated team of over 500 NCA officers has been working on Operation Venetic night and day, and thousands more across policing. And it's all been made possible because of superb work with our international partners.

LONDON: A cash seizure from a property in Vauxhall in South London during the EncroChat investigation on June 22

LIVERPOOL: Merseyside Police was involved in the raids as officers made a breakthrough in the fight against organised crime

MERSEYSIDE: Cash seized in the Anfield area of Liverpool on June 22 during the huge investigation

LONDON: Cash seized by police and NCA officers during a raid at a property in Vauxhall, South London, on June 22

BIRMIMGHAM: Designer shoes that were discovered when the NCA and police took part in a property raid on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: Cash that was discovered when the NCA and police took part in raiding a property on June 26

BIRMINGHAM: £25,000 in cash that was discovered when the NCA and police took part in a raid on a home on June 26

LONDON: Bundles of cash seized from a property in Vauxhall, South London, during the investigation

LONDON: Officers arrested some of London's longest-standing and most dangerous criminals and seized £13million in cash

BIRMINGHAM: A gun found by the Regional Organised Crime Unit for the West Midlands Region (ROCU) during the probe

LONDON: A gun found during a raid on a property in the capital which is part of the Operation Venetic investigation

LONDON: Huge amounts of cash were found during one of the raids in the capital by the Metropolitan Police

LONDON: A gun and ammunition are pictured in an evidence photograph released by Scotland Yard today

'This year the police are winning': How criminals sent frantic messages as the net closed in on them

Frantic messages exchanged between criminals using EncroChat revealed how they knew their time might be up as the net closed on the encrypted communications system. Here is what the messages said:

The phones - which have pre-loaded apps for instant messaging, the ability to make VOIP calls and a kill code which wipes them remotely - have no other conventional smartphone functionality and cost about £1,500 for a six-month contract.

'Together we've protected the public by arresting middle-tier criminals and the kingpins, the so-called iconic untouchables who have evaded law enforcement for years, and now we have the evidence to prosecute them.

'The NCA plays a key role in international efforts to combat encrypted comms. I'd say to any criminal who uses an encrypted phone, you should be very, very worried.'

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the action showed how determined law enforcement was in tackling the threat of crime.

She said: 'This operation demonstrates that criminals will not get away with using encrypted devices to plot vile crimes under the radar.

'The NCA's relentless targeting of these gangs has helped to keep us all safe. I congratulate them and law enforcement partners on this significant achievement.

'I will continue working closely with the NCA and others to tackle the use of such devices – giving them the resources, powers and tools they need to keep our country safe.'

How every police force in Britain was involved: Arrests and seizures in each region after the fall on Encrochat 

Every police force in the UK has been involved in a huge international operation against organised crime gangs after an encrypted communications network was taken down.

Here are details of action taken by the National Crime Agency, police forces and regional organised crime units:

- National Crime Agency

Arrests 76; Devices seized 24; Cash £6,583,996, 637,800 euros; Firearms seven; Ammunition 101; Cocaine 173.5kg; Heroin 25kg; Prescription medicines 1,000,000 pills.

Operations carried out by the NCA along with different police forces included raids with the Met and Police Scotland on a drugs factory near Rochester in Kent, when 28 million Etizolam tablets, a drug known as street valium, were seized.

As well as the haul, which had a street value of £14 million, six people were arrested.

Another joint NCA operation, this time with Greater Manchester Police, involved the arrest of Jamie Rothwell, who was wanted for offences of conspiracy to murder dating back to 2015.

He was held in Spain on May 24 and brought back to the UK under a European Arrest Warrant.

Another was a number of raids in Gravesend, Kent, in April, where 24.5kg of cocaine worth £2.4 million was seized along with £213,000 in cash, and five people were arrested. In a linked raid another £200,000 was seized in north London and another person charged with money laundering.

Other operations saw a cash counting house in the West Midlands raided, with £1.6 million seized, while an operation involving Police Scotland and Staffordshire Police found 40kg of cocaine.

Drug smugglers trying to bring cocaine into the UK from South America on a cruise ship were also stopped, with three people including a member of the liner's crew arrested in the Solent area in April, along with two from the north of England.

- East Midlands Special Operations Unit

Arrests 29; Devices seized 12; Cash £2,191,200; Cocaine 50.25kg; Heroin 2kg.

The biggest hits in the region targeted two gangs, the first of which operated out of Derbyshire with links to London and Luton.

Raids in June led to the seizure of £1.4 million in bank notes, gold bullion worth more than £6,000 and 19 cars, as well as the arrests of 11 people.

The second gang was based in Nottinghamshire, but had reach into Liverpool.

Raids led to the seizure of 7.5kg of cocaine and heroin and £620,000 in cash, and five arrests.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Kirby said: 'By using Encrochat, these criminals thought they could conduct their illegal enterprises beneath our radar.

'They thought we didn't know what they were up to. What they didn't know was that from the very means by which they were plotting their crimes, we were taking notes, and this has made for some compelling evidence.

'As the country was under lockdown, these criminals continued to traffic their illicit wares and inflict incredible harm to our communities. But as they continued to operate, so too did we.

'The intelligence garnered under Operation Venetic has not only informed some of our existing operations, but has also exposed the scale and reach of some of our most serious and organised criminals.'

- Eastern Region Special Operations Unit

Arrests 46; Devices seized 19; Cash £2,491,000; Firearms nine; Ammunition 229; Cocaine 354kg; Heroin 21kg; Amphetamine 24.5kg

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Parkes said: 'This is perhaps the most important law enforcement operation to take place in the Eastern region. The results are not just significant in terms of drugs, guns and cash seized, but also represent a huge step forward in disrupting the operations of criminal gangs in our communities.

'Until now, some criminals have been able to function below the radar using the Encrochat system. This gave them means of communicating between each other which they thought were safe.

'They thought they were evading law enforcement but this same technology is now being used directly against them.'

- North East Region Special Operations Unit

Arrests 37; Devices seized 12; Cash £1,357,495, 1,000 euros; Firearms nine; Explosives one; Ammunition 338; Cocaine 9kg; Cannabis Cultivations three; Ecstasy 2kg; Amphetamine 79kg.

Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson said: 'Organised crime can devastate our communities and can often see the exploitation of children and vulnerable people.

'While it's amazing to see such large recoveries of drugs and firearms, it's important we continue our work so these groups are dismantled and can no longer operate.

'Community intelligence is vital to this and we hope this activity gives people the confidence to approach their local force with any information that can help us tackle serious and organised crime.'

- North West Regional Organised Crime Unit

Arrests 93; Devices seized 28; Cash £3,653,000; Firearms 10; Explosives one; Ammunition 222; Cocaine 34kg; Heroin 0.5kg; Cannabis 7.28kg; Cannabis Cultivations one; Ecstasy 20kg; Amphetamine 17kg.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Green said: 'Across the North West we have been working flat out with our local forces and the NCA to assess and interpret the intelligence and to identify opportunities to not only take enforcement action but also to safeguard and mitigate risks of serious violence.'

More than 30 people were arrested for various offences in Merseyside, including drugs and firearms supply and money laundering, and more than £2 million in cash and three guns were seized.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Critchley said: 'We have seen a trend amongst Merseyside criminals with the use of encrypted devices in a bid to evade detection, but the activity we have been involved with in recent weeks with the National Crime Agency and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and crime enforcement partners in Europe shows that nobody is infallible and we have the ability to come together and hit the criminals hard.'

- South East Regional Organised Crime Unit

Arrests 45; Devices seized 37; Cash £3,129,900; Firearms two; Cocaine 76.8kg; Heroin 1.5kg; Cannabis 8kg; Synthetic drugs 5kg.

Notable raids included a series of warrants in London and Wokingham on June 19, where 8kg of cocaine and £100,000 in cash were seized at five addresses, as well as a number of encrypted digital devices.

Five men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply and concealing, disguising, converting and transferring criminal property offences.

- South West Regional Organised Crime Unit

Arrests 31; Devices seized 10; Cash £790,000; Firearms two; Ammunition 43; Cocaine 17kg; Ecstasy 1kg; Amphetamines 4kg; Other Synthetics 1kg.

Nine people suspected of being part of a class A drug-dealing ring were arrested in Bath and Bristol.

Six encrypted phones were seized, as well as a Glock handgun with a silencer and ammunition, 8kg of cocaine, 4kg of MDMA, thousands of ecstasy tablets, and £100,000 in cash.

Another £400,000 was seized from a car that travelled from Bath to London.

Detective Superintendent Tina Robinson said: 'Criminals using these devices, which have a kill code to enable them to be wiped remotely, thought they could communicate freely and securely. Instead, they have provided evidence that will undoubtedly see them locked up for years and the wealth they've acquired stripped away.

'Intimidation and violence go hand in hand with serious and organised crime - that's clear when you look at the weapons seized both here and across the country. By collectively dismantling these groups, lives have been saved and communities across the region have been protected.'

Other investigations saw three men arrested in Weston-super-Mare, Portishead and Shirehampton in Bristol on suspicion of money laundering and conspiracy to supply class A drugs, with £30,000 cash and a number of high-value watches seized.

A series of warrants across Bournemouth led to 11 arrests for drugs and firearms offences, with £80,000 cash, around 8kg of suspected class A drugs worth around £300,000 and a firearm seized.

- Metropolitan Police

Arrests 146; Devices seized 39; Cash £15,490,200; Firearms 19; Ammunition 802; Cocaine 538.5kg; Heroin 47kg; Cannabis 12kg; Cannabis Cultivations three; Other Synthetics three.

- West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit

Arrests 43; Encrypted devices seized 11; Cash £7,202,535; Firearms one; Ammunition five; Cocaine 233.25kg; Cannabis 2kg; Drug Labs/Factories two.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Baker said: 'We have seized considerable amounts of cash, drugs, firearms and other commodities that we know were destined for local, national and international distribution.

'We specifically focused on those thought to be involved in the highest levels of organised crime across our region.

'This work has undoubtedly saved lives by taking guns and drugs off the streets and we know we have made a huge contribution to making our streets much safer from organised crime gangs.

'Although the tactic has now been made public this does not mean the operation has stopped. The wealth of intelligence we have received means that investigations will be continuing into organised crime groups regionally and there will be many more warrants, arrests and prosecutions over the coming months as a result of this.'

- Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit

Arrests 70; Encrypted devices seized seven; Cash £2,922,580; Firearms 10; Ammunition four; Cocaine 108.5kg; Heroin 10kg; Cannabis Cultivations two; Synthetic drugs 20kg; Drug Labs/Factories one.

Action included the arrest of eight members of an organised crime gang and the seizure of more than £1.4 million in cash.

Police recovered the bulk of the money when they stopped a 36-year-old man in his car in Sheffield in May, and found that he had two suitcases full of cash totalling £1.1 million.

When his home was searched investigators found another £150,000, as well as two counting machines.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Osman Khan from West Yorkshire Police said: 'This operation has been of an unprecedented scale and has landed a devastating blow to those involved in serious and organised crime across the Yorkshire and the Humber Region.

'Serious and organised crime can have a terrible impact on the local communities we serve, and nationally is estimated to cost the UK economy billions every year.'

- Police Scotland

Arrests 59; Encrypted devices 56; Cash £5,447,390, 1,352,610 euros; Firearms eight; Explosives two; Ammunition 97; Cocaine 200.55kg; Heroin 33.9kg; Cannabis 64kg; Cannabis Cultivations two; Synthetic drugs 1kg; Prescription Medicines 330,000 pills.

Operations included several large seizures of cocaine - 65kg found in a lorry at Hamilton Services on May 28; 59kg and £750,000 in cash in a car and van on the A74 near Ecclefechan on May 19; and 40kg in a van on the M74 near Lesmahagow on April 20.

Assistant Chief Constable Angela McLaren said: 'These intelligence-led, proactive operations, which have been undertaken in partnership with the National Crime Agency and the UK's Border Force, have resulted in some of the largest seizures made by the service.'

- Police Service of Northern Ireland

Arrests five; Encrypted devices seized 15; Cash £361,650, 1,065 euros; Cocaine 0.055kg; Cannabis 2.5kg.

Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray said: 'Over recent weeks we have carried out over 22 searches across Northern Ireland leading to the seizure of 15 Encro phones, over £360,000 cash, over 2.5Kg of cannabis, personal use cocaine, three high-value vehicles and numerous pieces of documentation, laptops, jewellery and designer handbags.

'This is an example of excellent partnership working between the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the National Crime Agency and HM Revenue and Customs in Northern Ireland to disrupt the activities of some of the most dangerous and sophisticated criminals involved in serious and organised crime in our communities. The operation is ongoing and there will be further searches and arrests.'

- Organised Crime Partnership London

Arrests 28; Encrypted devices seized 13; Cash £837,500; Cocaine 44.5kg; Cannabis 1kg; Ecstasy 31 kg; Drug Labs/Factories one; Prescription Medicines 28,000,000 pills.

- Organised Crime Partnership Scotland

Arrests three; encrypted devices seized two; Cash £724,650; Cocaine 33.5kg.

- HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

Arrests five; encrypted devices seized 11; Cash £15,000, 250,000 euros.

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