Durham Constabulary launched Operation Sledgehammer, a sustained campaign to "get in the faces" of organised crime gangs, under chief constable Barton's direction. He has previously cited the way notorious Prohibition-era mafioso Al Capone was brought down not for bootlegging, but tax evasion.
Decriminalising their commodity will immediately cut off their income stream and destroy their power.
Making drugs legal would tackle the supply chain much more effectively and much more economically than we can currently manage.
I am saying that people who encourage others to take drugs by selling them are criminals, and their actions should be tackled.
But addicts, on the other hand, need to be treated, cared for and encouraged to break the cycle of addiction. They do not need to be criminalised.
– Durham's chief constable Mike Barton.
The officer, who has served for nearly 34 years, said he had witnessed a worsening drug addiction problem since prohibition began in 1971 with the Misuse of Drugs Act.
One of the country's top police officers has called for class-A drugs to be decriminalised to break the monopoly and income stream of criminal gangs.
Mike Barton, Durham's chief constable, has called for the policy of outright prohibition to be radically revised and suggested that the NHS could supply drugs to addicts.
Barton has compared drugs prohibition to the ban on alcohol in 1920s America that gave rise to Al Capone and the mafia. He argues, in The Observer, that criminalising the drugs trade puts billions of pounds into the pockets of criminal gangs.