37 people arrested in Greater Manchester as part of national operation Venetic

Date published: 02 July 2020

Greater Manchester Police joined forces with the National Crime Agency as part of the UK’s biggest ever law enforcement operation, resulting in 37 people being arrested and £1.7million in cash being seized by GMP as well as firearms and ammunition, large quantities of drugs and high-powered cars.

The huge operation – codenamed Venetic – has spanned nearly every law enforcement agency across the United Kingdom. Under Operation Venetic, law enforcement agencies across the UK have joined together and shared expertise in order to breakthrough a highly sophisticated and encrypted global communication service, which was being used by organised crime groups.

The operation has seen entire organised crime groups across the UK dismantled as a result of the covert analysis and action, with 746 arrests, over £54million in criminal cash, 77 firearms and more than two tonnes of drugs seized in total.

The operation was sparked after EncroChat – the secure mobile phone instant messaging service which allowed criminals to communicate with each other freely – was cracked by an international law team two months ago.

The command and control communication system had over 60,000 worldwide users, with 10,000 within the UK - with the purpose of coordinating and planning the illegal disruption of illicit commodities, money laundering and plotting to kill rival criminals.

Since the system was infiltrated, law enforcement agencies, unbeknown to the criminal networks, have been working together and monitoring users’ every move.

Working under the national operation, GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit have undertaken a series of investigations, focussing on criminals within the Greater Manchester areas. This has been launched under GMP’s specialised operation – codenamed Foam. 

These investigations have lead to 37 people being brought into custody in Greater Manchester, with 33 of those people being subsequently charged.

Warrants executed across Greater Manchester have seen the following seized:

  • £1.7million worth of cash
  • 15kg of cocaine
  • 2kg of heroin
  • 2kg of cannabis
  • 70kg of amphetamine
  • 500,000 ecstasy tablets
  • Six firearms, which included machine guns and over 200 rounds of ammunition
  • 10 Encrypted mobile phones

As well as this, hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of criminal property has also been seized; from high-powered cars to expensive jewellery.

The data analysed has enabled detectives to better understand the make-up of criminal enterprises, gaining more knowledge around the methods sophisticated groups use to evade the police. This infiltration has also meant that GMP’s officers have been able to respond to information where people were at risk from exploitation and other risk factors, taking action on several occasions to ensure people did not come to harm from criminal networks.

GMP’s work under Operation Foam will continue throughout the coming weeks and months, working to further disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises across the force area.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Creely, head of GMP’s Public Protection and Serious Crime Division, said: “This has been a colossal piece of work that has required dedication from specialist and differing teams across Greater Manchester Police; and I would really like to thank them for their efforts, as they have no doubt been absolutely integral in dismantling the most sophisticated of organised crime operations.

“This has been a unique and complex series of investigations and the level of sophistication exerted by these criminal enterprises should not be overshadowed. It is thanks and testament to the huge partnership efforts across the UK, as well as further afield, that we are seeing a major breakthrough in the fight against organised crime.

“The impact that this operation will have on the people of Greater Manchester is hugely significant. Organised criminal activity blights communities and ruins people’s lives; and over recent years our communities have felt the full effects of this with violence sometimes erupting over drug and territory disputes. Breakthroughs such as this one are catastrophic for many criminal networks and leave them absolutely exposed, making them hugely vulnerable to prosecution.

“A top priority for GMP will always be to make our streets a safer place, protecting our communities and the people we serve. We will continue to work with specialist agencies and other forces, both nationally and internationally, and do everything within our power to tackle organised crime.”

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