UK’s biggest drugs conspiracy

9th October 2019 Criminal Defence

Reports have today emerged that the police have arrested 4 individuals in the early hours of the morning in what is said to be the ‘biggest UK drugs conspiracy’.

It is said that the arrests of the individuals follows an 18 month investigation by the National Crime Agency (“NCA”) who have been tracking drugs that are reported to have been smuggled into the country via HGVs carrying vegetables and juices, that were in fact concealing more than 50 tonnes of drugs, worth millions of pounds.

Arrests that took place this morning occurred across the country, including addresses in Manchester, Leeds, Warrington, Bolton, Dewsbury, Stockport and London and is being reported as the biggest every conspiracy in the UK involving the importation of Class A and B drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis. It has been reported that this was industrial scale operation that resulted in drugs being distributed to crime groups throughout the UK.

In the wake of such wide scale arrests today there will undoubtedly follow further investigations and arrests of those thought to have been operating across different levels and locations within the conspiracy.

The cross-border element of the investigation and European cooperation led to the arrest of two women in April by Dutch police who await extradition to the UK. The European Arrest Warrant allows for individuals who have been arrested in association with the investigation to be swiftly brought back to the UK. It shall however be of concern to those who have investigating the alleged conspiracy that if the UK leave the EU without a deal the UK’s investigating authorities will lose these significant tools and powers.  

Sam Healey, a Partner in JMW’s Business Crime & Regulation team comments that “taking into consideration the potential loss of law enforcement and criminal justice tools that the police and in particular the NCA may lose, pending a possible ‘No Deal Brexit’ one may assume that the NCA have brought forward their 18 month investigation to ensure that they still have the power and capability to combat serious organised crime. JMW have exceptional experience in dealing with some of the most serious and biggest organised crime conspiracies across the country. We are regularly instructed to assist in respect of conspiracies alleged to have spanned both nationally and internationally with expertise in dealing with European Arrest Warrants and prosecutions investigated by the NCA.’

If you are arrested or charged in connection with a conspiracy to supply drugs, robust legal representation from the earliest stage is essential.  For further information about the comprehensive service our lawyers can offer if you are concerned about an arrest or proceedings in respect of conspiracy to supply drugs, the co-authors of this blog, Catherine O’Rourke and Sam Healey can be contacted on 0845 872 6666 and

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Catherine O'Rourke is an Associate Solicitor located in Manchester in our Business Crime & Regulation department

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