Police have arrested 15 people while carrying out a number of warrants to tackle an organised crime ring involving drug and people trafficking in Milton Keynes.
An ongoing investigation has found that an organised crime group has been operating within Milton Keynes and is responsible for large quantities of class A drugs being brought in from London and then being dealt on the streets of Milton Keynes.
This group is using hand car washes as a front for their criminal activity and police also believe individuals may be being trafficked into Milton Keynes, and might be the subject of modern slavery.
Warrants have been carried out at four hand car washes in Milton Keynes, and one in Bedford.
As a result we have safeguarded 30 people who are believed to be victims of modern slavery, who are currently being supported by police’s partner agencies and charities.
Officers also carried out a number of warrants at 20 residential addresses. As part of the search, officers seized a large quantity of cocaine, cannabis and also thousands of pounds worth of cash, and a Mercedes ML 250.
13 people have been arrested with offences on suspicion of offences such as modern slavery and people trafficking, conspiracy to supply class A drugs, and also immigration offences.
During this operation, police have also worked with the Belgium Federal Police, through the National Crime Agency in order to safeguard a further six victims of modern slavery including a 16-year-old and 17 year-old boy.
A further two individuals on human trafficking offences, with 15 people arrested in total, and 36 people safeguarded.
Police have heralded the operation as the largest of its kind in the Thames Valley region.
DCI Nicole Murphy said, “Today we have carried out a number of warrants to disrupt an organised crime group that has been operating in Milton Keynes. We have made a number of arrests and have safeguarded a number of individuals who we believe may have been subjected to modern slavery offences, and tackle a people smuggling network.
“To offer support to vulnerable individuals who may have been trafficked, or those who need help with drugs addiction, we have been working with Milton Keynes Council, HM Immigration, The Samaritans, The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, the Gang Master Licensing Authority and HMRC.
“Additionally we have disrupted this organised crime group, to stop them from bringing drugs into Milton Keynes, and protect our community from the damaging health and social effects of drug abuse.
“This organised crime group has used hand car washes in Milton Keynes, in order to act as a front to mask their criminal activity. By continued working with the community and our partners we hope to stop these groups from establishing roots within our communities in this way.”
DCI Murphy also lead calls for the public’s help and support to assist the police’s attempts to tackle organised crime.
She said, “In order to tackle serious and organised crime we need the public’s help and support. We would ask anyone who thinks someone is being exploited to please report it. Some of the common signs of modern slavery and exploitation can be found on our Hidden Harm page.
“If you have information which could assist us in tackling serious and organised crime please call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”