Transport and logistics targeted in clean-up of organised crime

26/11/2012

Transport and Logistics firms and truck drivers involved in organised crime across the North West of England are being targeted by law enforcement agencies during a year-long clean-up of organised crime supported by Crimestoppers.

It has been reported that drugs, guns, illegal tobacco, laundered fuel and dangerous fake alcohol are smuggled into the UK from overseas and brought to the North West hidden in lorries.

Last week, TITAN, the North West Regional Crime Unit, launched an operation codenamed ‘Hedgehunter’. The operation is supported by the six regional police forces, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, UK Border Force, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs and other agencies.

The aim of the operation is to disrupt criminal activity by tackling rogue elements within the haulage industry, gather information about who is involved, and support law-abiding members of the industry whose profits and livelihoods are being threatened.

Detective Chief Inspector Janet Hudson, the senior investigating officer for Operation Hedgehunter, said:

“This is the first time that TITAN has led an operation targeting haulage companies as the movers and shakers in serious and organised crime in this region.

“Almost all organised crime affecting the North West involves commodities like drugs, weapons or contraband crossing our borders illegally and end up fuelling crime on the streets of our communities and damaging people’s lives.

“By targeting rogue elements within the haulage industry we are disrupting this supply chain, driving the criminal element out of trucking and firing a warning shot across their bows that we are going to be looking very closely at their business practices.

Howard Leather, Head of Intelligence in the North West for SOCA, said:

“Partnerships at a regional, national and international level are a vital part of tackling organised crime and protecting our communities. Targeting those who provide a transportation service to crime groups is one of the ways we can disrupt the supply chain and stop illegal commodities reaching the streets.

“A reliable transport network is fundamental to crime groups and some are prepared to pay substantial amounts of money for assistance. The economic downturn and increased competition which has already affected the road haulage industry may be making it more susceptible to involvement in organised crime.

“Legitimate companies have nothing to fear but if you are knowingly supporting crime groups, whether that’s arranging shipments or driving the lorry, SOCA and its partners will come after you.”

The police and other agencies will be carrying out random roadside examinations of heavy goods vehicles being driven on the motorway network to check if they are carrying any illegal loads or have committed any traffic offences.

A high-profile awareness-raising campaign, aimed at truck drivers and other motorway users, will also encourage them to report any information about illegal or suspicious activity, in confidence, to Crimestoppers.

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