POLICE chiefs have hailed the seizure of tens of millions of pounds in cash and drugs from serious organised crime groups as a sign specialist teams set up to take on Yorkshire’s most notorious gangsters are winning the battle.
Officers from the roads policing team, set up in 2008 and which is part of Odyssey, the umbrella name for all operational, intelligence and crime units across Yorkshire, helped seize £4.2m in Class A and B drugs between October 2011 and September 2012, as well as nearly £900,000 in money and £504,000 worth of stolen vehicles.
A further £250,000 in counterfeit goods was also recovered as well as £739,500 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Other key successes being highlighted in the past 12 months are a recent multi-million pound drugs ring smashed on the east coast, and foiling an attempt to smuggle £2.2kg of heroin into Rotherham from Pakistan by hiding it in footballs.
Meanwhile, in May, Russell Barratt, 50, of Maggot Farm, Stocking Lane, Knottingley, was given an immediate custodial sentence of two years and three months by Leeds Crown Court for three offences of handling stolen goods.
A long-running investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, the Environment Agency and South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Humberside Police uncovered the farm was being used to strip down stolen agricultural vehicles taken to the site by organised crime gangs.
“These are very impressive results,” said Deputy Chief Constable Mark Whyman.
“There are companies all over the UK who situate themselves in Yorkshire because of the road connections. That presents an opportunity for criminal groups as well that we can respond to.
“These are good relatively recent cases with a large number going through the courts.
“These are sophisticated groups with links nationally and internationally. Looking at the national figures, our level of risk is lower, but we cannot be complacent.
“We have got a lot of organised crime groups operating across areas involved in people trafficking, firearms and drugs.”
Mr Whyman added: “My message to the criminals is we will continue to take the cash off them and make sure crime doesn’t pay.”
Last month the Yorkshire Post revealed that new research showed a criminal network of 1,644 offenders has now spread across the region described as the most sophisticated ever seen, with a clear link established between children as young as 10 in urban street gangs being groomed to “graduate” into more serious organised groups.
Of the 244 organised crime groups uncovered across Yorkshire and the Humber, around 75 per cent are believed to operate across police force boundaries co-ordinating crime in other parts of the region and country, as well as having connections across the world.
This has been reinforced by research in Bradford, called Operation Yeoman and conducted over the past 12 months by the Regional Policing Unit, Serious Organised Crime Agency and West Yorkshire Police, which has obtained the clearest ever picture of organised crime in the city.