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Over £21m of Class A drugs seized in Essex as part of major international operation

Essex Police has seized nearly £2m in cash. Picture credits: Essex Police

More than £21m worth of Class A drugs and £1.85m in cash have been seized in Essex, as part of a major international operation targeting serious and organised crime.

The major crackdown has seen a staggering 155.5kg of drugs recovered since the start of May, while 13 people have subsequently been arrested.

Detective Chief Inspector Lee Morton, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate who supported the operation has said:

“These operations highlight our determination to disrupt serious and organised crime operating in Essex.

“In the last eight weeks we have seen some of the largest seizures of drugs and cash in the history of Essex Police and we’ve prevented a significant amount of drugs from getting into our communities.

“These results signify a substantial blow to organised crime in our county.

“Drugs cause misery in our communities and the selling of drugs is often linked to violence on our streets and the exploitation of vulnerable people.

“We will not tolerate this and will continue to disrupt the activities of those involved and work to bring them to justice.

“These operations also highlight how we are keeping you safe through excellent and effective partnership working with organisations such as the National Crime Agency, the Eastern Region Serious Operations Unit, and Border Force.”

(More images of the large stashes of drugs and cash that officers have seized. Picture credits: Essex Police)

It forms part of the international "Operation Venetic", which has made a major breakthrough in disrupting large-scale organised crime, after an encrypted local communication service used exclusively by criminals was penetrated and taken down.

EncroChat was a instant messaging service that had 60,000 people using it across the world and around 10,000 in the UK.

It was used primarily for co-ordinating and planning criminal activities, such as distributing the likes of drugs and firearms, as well as money laundering.

The operation fronted by the National Crime Agency (NCA) has been targeting EncroChat since 2016 and it was finally infiltrated by agencies in France and the Netherlands two months ago.

It was then shared via Europol to national law agencies.

From there, intelligence gathered led to the discovery of drugs and cash in a number of incident.

One 1 June, 138kg of cocaine and 8kg of heroin, worth a combined £20m, were recovered from a lorry at the Port of Harwich.

Police have since arrested and charged Marcin Jadasz, 43, from Prudnik in Poland with two counts of importing Class A drugs.

Officers also arrested and charged three other men in connection with another drugs bust in Hullbridge, which led to £80,000 in cash being seized on 23 May.

A vehicle stopped on the A13 at the junction with the M25 on 13 May, was also found with £750,000 inside and a man was subsequently arrested and charged.

Finally, police found £750,000 in cash and 5kg of cocaine, with an estimated street value of £500,000, after a warrant was executed in Basildon on 29 May.

A man and woman were subsequently arrested and charged.

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