Serious crime operation launched by North Wales Police


Staff reporter (Rhyl Journal)

ARMED robbery, firearms, kidnapping, human trafficking and drug production will be tackled by a new North Wales Police operation.

Operation Scorpion is set to bring together serious and organised crime cases across all of North Wales under one umbrella.

It was launched by Detective Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones, who was speaking from the North Wales Police headquarters in St Asaph.

DCS Jones, the force's head of crime services, said: “Operation Scorpion will manage all types of serious and organised criminality including cross-border crime, armed robbery, criminal use of firearms, kidnapping or human trafficking as well as drug production, importation and supply.

"Over the years we've had quite a large number and variety of operations targeting serious and organised crime in North Wales, but we are aware that the disparate nature of these cases mean that residents aren't necessarily aware of the work that is going on.
"We're bringing future operations together as a recognisable brand for the public."

North Wales Police are making a concerted effort to encourage residents to report signs of organised crime.

DCS Jones said: "We're trying to increase the information flow both ways.

"We have an excellent record of working with our communities and very often that vital piece of information which helps us convict the criminals comes from the community.

"Those who are involved in serious and organised crime seldom do so quietly, they very often live well beyond their obvious means, drive expensive cars, live in large houses and are often out of the country."

The police use surveillance techniques, capturing video and still images, CCTV, forensic evidence and analysis of communications inside the criminal groups to charge them.

On December 3, 2012, four men were sentenced at Mold Crown court over what North Wales Police called one of the most "sophisticated investigations" of commercial high-grade cannabis farming in North Wales.

During "Operation Gumshoe", police tracked down the cannabis factory, which was set in disused railway tunnels near the Menai Business Park in Bangor.

Following sentencing Superintendant Peter Newton, Divisional Commander for Gwynedd and Ynys Môn, said: "It is clear this group of criminal went to extreme and complex lengths not just to manufacture and set up the factory but also the work undertaken to conceal their illegal activity.

"This also shows that no matter how complex and clandestine drugs dealers think they are being we have the resources, technology and determination to find them out."

As part of Operation Justice in 2011, two men were arrested in after being caught in Mochdre, Conwy during a £92,000 cocaine hand-over.

During a search at a connected Mochdre address, police seized military issue ammunition, explosives and a hand grenade.

DCS Wayne Jones was keen to emphasise that cases like this were unusual in Wales.
He said: "We don't want to give people the wrong impression. North Wales is one of the safest places to live. But we don't want to be complacent.
"We're aware that there are people out there who, if they see an opportunity to profit illegally, they will seize it.

"We want to send the message that not only will those found guilty go to jail for a very long time, we will also relentlessly persue any assets they make while committing crime.

"There will be no criminal pension pot for them when they come out of prison."
DCS Jones urged the public to contact the police if they had any suspicions of organised crime and that any information would be treated in the strictest confidence.

He said: "One of the most satisfying things about bringing a criminal to justice is that everybody likes to see them get their comeuppance.

"Nobody likes to see anybody getting rich from their ill-gotten gains. Some of these cases will go on for years - there are some that will come to fruition over the next few months.

"But the main thing for us is reducing the threat to the people of North Wales."
Members of the public can contact North Wales Police on 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 to support Operation Scorpion.

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