Operation Target: More than 1,000 arrests for drugs and weapons offences

Staffordshire Police have made more than 1,000 arrests for drugs and weapons-related offences since the launch of a major and organised crime crackdown to target offenders and protect those at risk of exploitation across Staffordshire.

Operation Target was launched in May last year as part of our commitment to proactively and relentlessly target groups and individuals responsible for high-harm crimes, including county lines drug distribution, illegal firearms activity, modern slavery, and cyber-crime in our county.

Between May 2023 and the end of April this year officers made 695 arrests for a range of drugs-related offences, including possession with intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of drugs, including heroin, crack cocaine, MDMA, and cannabis.

They have also made 334 weapons-related arrests across the county, taken tens of thousands of pounds-worth of drugs out of circulation, protected vulnerable members of our communities and secured numerous convictions at court.

Teams have continued to gather and respond to intelligence, carrying out stop searches and targeting offenders in pre-planned operations and proactive warrants.

In May their work led to a four-and-a-half-year jail term for a serial offender, who was locked up for being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis and possession of a bladed article.

Three drug dealers from Rugeley also found themselves behind bars after more than £82,000-worth of drugs and property were seized following police raids carried out in the town.

A 33-year-old man was sentenced to seven years for conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs,  possession of incapacitant spray and other illegal weapons and acquiring, using or possessing criminal property.

A 45-year-old man received seven years and six months for conspiring to supply MDMA, cocaine and cannabis, whilst a third man, also aged 33, received two-years-and-three-months in jail after conspiring to supply class B drugs.

This is alongside the seizure of criminal money and mobile phones, including ‘drug lines’ used by offenders to co-ordinate their illegal activity.

In January, officers arrested four people after finding around £40,000-worth of class A drugs, £20,000 in cash and mobile phones after searching five separate addresses in coordinated warrants across Stoke-on-Trent.

Police officers have also identified and safeguarded victims of exploitation, from children ‘targeted and used ’ by county lines drug dealers to vulnerable adult victims of modern slavery.

Detective Superintendent Nicki Addison, head of Major and Organised Crime, said: “I am pleased to be able to share just some of the work undertaken to identify, disrupt and target serious and organised criminality within Staffordshire.

“Our major and organised crime proactive teams and wider force specialist and local policing teams have had a relentless year working day in day out to disrupt major criminals operating across and causing harm within our county.

“This continuing work is a real team effort, with proactive and reactive policing teams combining to help us identify and detain offenders and take harmful drugs, weapons and people off our streets.

“A lot of what we do is intelligence led and we work closely with our communities, listening to their concerns and acting on the information they give us, as well as officers from our local policing teams (LPTs) and partners in the local authority, health and third sector.”

Tony Mullins
Tony Mullins
Presenter & News Editor

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