1. ITV Report

Lorry smuggling crackdown launched across the North West

Drugs being removed from a hidden compartment in a lorry. Photo: Police

Truck drivers and haulage companies involved in smuggling offences and organised crime across the North West are being targeted in a year-long crackdown.

Drugs, guns, illegal tobacco, laundered fuel, and fake alcohol are among the items that are smuggled into the country, then brought into the region hidden in lorries.

The North West Regional Crime Unit, Titan, is leading the crackdown that has been called Operation Hedgehunter.

It is being supported by Crimestoppers, Border Force, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, HM Revenue & Customers and all of the police forces in the North West.

Detective Chief Inspector Janet Hudson, the Senior Investigating Officer for Operation Hedgehunter said: "This is the first time that Titan has led an operation targeting haulage companies as the movers and shakers in serious and organised crime in this region.

"Almost all organised crime affecting the North West involves commodities like drugs, weapons or contraband crossing our borders illegally and end up fuelling crime on the streets of our communities and damaging people's lives.

"By targeting rogue elements within the haulage industry we are disrupting this supply chain, driving the criminal element out of trucking and firing a warning shot across their bows that we are going to be looking very closely at their business practices.

"The vast majority of firms are run by decent, law-abiding people who are simply trying to run a legitimate business and make a living. But they are not competing on a level playing field because some of their rivals are using the proceeds from organised crime to expand their business unfairly.

"My message to them is help us put a stop to this by sharing what you know about suspicious or illegal activity in your industry."