Raids across the south in UK's biggest operation against organised crime

More than 700 people have been arrested in the "biggest ever" operation against organised crime.

£54 million of cash has been seized, and one and a half tonnes of cocaine - in raids led by the UK's National Crime Agency.

As part of Operation Venetic, a drugs factory was raided in Rochester, in Kent, and drugs worth £14 million were recovered. Money and drugs worth £2.4 million - were seized in Gravesend.

  • Police storm premises at Rochester in Kent

Arrests were made at the Channel Tunnel terminal, and also in the Solent - including a crew member on a cruise ship accused of attempting to import cocaine into the South of England.

Raids were also carried out in Wokingham in Berkshire, for drugs and firearms offences - across Bournemouth and Christchurch.

Experts in UK law enforcement had been able to 'crack' a 'phone encryption code - used globally and exclusively - by criminals. It meant they could watch their movements - and find out exactly what they were doing. 

Twenty eight million tablets of Etizolam were seized in rochester

Police stormed premises at Rochester in Kent, and Inside they found a drugs factory working on an industrial scale. 

Twenty eight million tablets of Etizolam were seized.  Known as Street Valium, the drugs - worth around fourteen million pounds, kill a substantial number of people each year.  Six people were arrested.  

In Gravesend, police seized more than 24 kilos of heroin with a street value of £2.4m.  More than £200,000 was recovered.  Five people arrested and charged.

In Gravesend, police seized more than 24 kilos of heroin Credit: National Crime Agency

It's part of what's being called the biggest law enforcement operation ever in the UK.  And it's been made possible by infiltrating an encrypted messaging system used exclusively by criminals.

The operation is part of what's being called the biggest law enforcement operation ever in the UK Credit: National Crime Agency

  • Nikki Holland   Director of Investigations, National Crime Agency


Detectives from the so-called Dark Web team conducted a series of drug warrants in Wokingham and London. 

Eight kilos of cocaine and £100,000 in cash were seized along with encrypted digital devices, Five men were arrested.

Detectives conducted a series of drug warrants in Wokingham and London Credit: National Crime Agency
Detectives conducted a series of drug warrants in Wokingham and London Credit: National Crime Agency

A series of raids across Bournemouth led to 11 arrests for drugs and firearms offences.   £80,000 cash, and eight kilos of suspected class A drugs worth around £300k were seized. 

A series of raids across Bournemouth led to 11 arrests for drugs and firearms offences Credit: National Crime Agency

  • James Vaughan, Chief Constable, Dorset Police


The NCA, Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) and police forces have punched huge holes in the UK organised crime network so far by arresting 746 suspects and seizing:

  • Over £54million in criminal cash

  • 77 firearms, including an AK47 assault rifle, sub machine guns, handguns, four grenades, and over 1,800 rounds of ammunition

  • More than two tonnes of Class A and B drugs

  • Over 28 million Etizolam pills (street Valium) from an illicit laboratory

  • 55 high value cars, and 73 luxury watches


In the Solent area, the National Crime Agency investigated a group suspected of attempting to import cocaine

In the Solent area, the National Crime Agency investigated a group suspected of attempting to import cocaine from South America into the South on a cruise ship.

Three people were arrested including a crew member, another at the Channel Tunnel terminal in Kent as they attempted to leave the UK.