Bedfordshire Police have issued a fresh warning to drug dealers that they’ll continue to tackle the supply of drugs across the area, ahead of ’24 Hours in Police Custody’ which this week shines a spotlight on their multi-million pound drugs operation.
It comes after a number of recent high profile cases of violent competition between rival Bedfordshire drugs gangs.
Last week five gang members in Bedford were jailed for 79 years over a spate of violence including kidnap and grievous bodily harm, a serious stabbing and a drive-by shooting.
Judge Nigel Lithman QC said the gangs ‘were at war’: “The defendants have been involved in the worst blight upon life in this country, involving the toxic combination of gang association and the use of knives and guns in pursuit of their rivalry in the course of the drugs trade.”
Meanwhile, earlier this month, while jailing three Luton men from Luton for a drive-by shooting, Judge Barbara Mensah said the incident showed: “dealing in drugs is an evil business”.
In 2018, Bedfordshire Police and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) seized almost £1million worth of drugs and £250,000 in criminal cash in 156 drug trafficking cases.
Towards the end of 2018, major drug dealers operating in Bedfordshire were also jailed for almost 160 years after investigations by Bedfordshire Police and ERSOU.
Most of the money seized will be reinvested to support Bedfordshire Police’s priorities, as well as helping fund regional and national law enforcement.
Bedfordshire Police’s Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay oversees their response to serious and organised crime and holds senior roles on a number of national bodies looking to tackle drugs.
He said: “Drugs continue to be the principal driver of serious violence in our communities. People may think drugs, particularly those of Class B, are low risk, but their supply is inextricably linked to these outbursts of violence and the funding of organised crime.
“Highly addictive substances such as heroin and crack cocaine are the principal commodities for county lines, where Bedfordshire faces issues in terms of drugs gangs coming into the county as well as being exported into other areas.
“Vulnerable drug users are subject to incidents of financial and sexual exploitation, as well as cuckooing. We are seeing increasingly younger children becoming involved in drug dealing, and a surge in drugs related gang violence within our county.
“That’s why it is so important we and other law enforcement agencies continue to investigate major figures involved in the supply of drugs.”
Monday’s episode of the popular Channel 4 programme explores how Bedfordshire Police worked with UK Border Force to investigate the source of 700 kilograms of amphetamine, herbal cannabis and cannabis resin, which was discovered en route to a warehouse in Sandy.