DRUGS worth in the region of a £250,000 have been taken off the streets of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot during a relentless six-month operation to tackle county lines drugs gangs.
Operation Colorado was launched to tackle the ever-increasing problem of county lines, which sees urban street gangs from large cities including London, Liverpool and the West Midlands, travelling to other areas of the country to supply drugs in what has become an increasingly lucrative business.
The operation – which comes under the umbrella of Operation Guardian, South Wales Police’s response to organised crime gangs targeting the most vulnerable in our society – has been persistent in converting live-time intelligence into robust enforcement action.
As well as the huge haul of drugs, which includes everything from cannabis to crack cocaine and heroin, cash in excess of £53,000 and various weapons have also been seized during the campaign.
As a result of the investigation, the following has been achieved:
· 54 search warrants executed
· 61 people arrested for various offences, including possession with the intent to supply, affray, robbery, assault, GBH and possession of offensive weapons. Of those 29 have been charged, 10 reported for summons and 24 remain released under investigation
· Cocaine with a street value of £35,000, crack cocaine with a street value of £47,000, heroin with a street value of £130,000 seized, along with quantities of amphetamine, ecstasy, cannabis seized.
· Weapons including knives and a shotgun recovered
· £53,000+ cash recovered
· Nine people convicted with jail sentences totalling 40 years handed down to date, with a significant proportion yet to be convicted or sentenced
· A number of high value goods expected to be recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act
Of those arrested, 28 were from areas other than Swansea or Neath Port Talbot, including seven originating from Merseyside, five from London, seven from West Midlands and three from Manchester.
Detective Inspector Stuart Johnson, Senior Investigating Officer for the operation, said: “On a daily basis we receive information and intelligence from the public and our frontline officers, which is enabling us to take this strong enforcement action.
“Operation Colorado has had some significant results but this is by no means a one-off. I would appeal to the communities of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot to keep providing information to help us rid our communities of this serious criminality which is causing misery in our communities.”
DCI Mark Lewis, Head of Public Protection and Intelligence, added: “County lines drug dealing is a national problem which unfortunately has not passed us by here in Western Bay.
“However, I want to assure the public that we will be absolutely relentless in our pursuit of organised crime gangs who are seeking to exploit the vulnerabilities in our communities.
“In addition to this dynamic and robust enforcement action we are also working with our partners across Western Bay to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of this criminality in order to safeguard those who are at risk of being exploited by these gangs.
“I would echo DI Johnson’s appeal and want the public to feel confident that the information they pass to us will be acted upon.
“Western Bay is a fantastic place to live, work and visit and it is our aim to keep it that way.”