TWO suspected members of an international crime gang have been arrested in dawn raids.

A series of raids were carried out by the National Crime Agency this morning, Tuesday, in connection with an organised crime group believed to be responsible for importing drugs worth billions of pounds into the UK from the Netherlands.

And two men from Warrington, aged 55 and 54, were held when officers executed a warrant in the town.

In total, 13 men were arrested – with further raids taking place in St Helens, Manchester, Bolton, Stockport, Leeds, London and Dewsbury.

They are believed to be part of the UK arm of a ‘well-established gang’ that used Dutch and British front companies to import more than 50 tonnes of heroin, cocaine and cannabis through UK ports over an 18-month period – hidden in lorry loads of vegetables and juice.

Warrington Guardian:

A further four men and two women from the Netherlands were arrested by the Dutch National Police in April on European arrest warrants, and are currently awaiting extradition to the UK.

Jayne Lloyd, the National Crime Agency’s regional head of investigations, said: “The NCA targets organised crime groups causing the greatest harm to the UK.

“Stopping criminals who don’t care about the damage they are causing in communities, and the children being exploited by County Lines drug dealing, is an absolute priority.

Warrington Guardian:

“We suspect these men were involved in an industrial-scale operation – the biggest ever uncovered in the UK – bringing in tonnes of deadly drugs that were distributed to crime groups throughout the country.

“By working closely with partners here and overseas, in particular the Dutch National Police, we believe we have dismantled a well-established drug supply route.”

The full extent of the alleged drug trafficking operation was uncovered following the interception of three consignments in September 2018 containing 351kg of cocaine, 92kg of heroin, 250kg of cannabis and 1,850kg of hemp – with a total street value of more than £38million.

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Warrington Guardian:

Subsequent enquiries led officers to believe they had imported drugs on numerous occasions between February 2017 and October 2018.

This investigation linked to an NCA operation where 13 individuals were jailed for a total of 176 years, after the seizure of more than 100kg of heroin in 2015.