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Officers working as part of a new multi-agency operation launched last month to tackle drugs trafficking in Greater Manchester were out this week in Wigan.
The intelligence-led initiative - codenamed Flood - was launched by GMP's Organised Crime Co-ordination Unit (OCCU) in January 2021 with support from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
Plain-clothed patrols were in Wigan on Monday (22 February) working with Merseyside Police to target identified checkpoints that are used most commonly for county lines purposes between the two regions, including the town's two train stations.
During Monday's action, police conducted 33 stop searches - of which 14 were positive - made 12 arrests, seized eight out of 20 vehicles that they stopped, and recovered a multitude of class A, B, and C drugs including a significant amount of suspected cocaine and several bags of cannabis.
Operation Flood is dedicated to surging targeted activity on groups involved in county lines, comprising of a series of action days taking place across the Force-area with the salient use of proactive policing, using covert and overt tactics.
Resources from the OCCU and Specialist Operations Unit are being deployed across the 12 districts to focus on disrupting suspicious activity and the supply and distribution of drugs across Greater Manchester, the North West, and beyond.
Prior to the inception of Op Flood on 17 January, over 200 drug lines were estimated to be operating from Greater Manchester between groups within the county and to every region in the UK.
A further 11 lines that involve the exploitation of vulnerable people have been identified since the operation was launched, and over 60 new intelligence logs have been made which can be used to assist other ongoing operations in GMP.
Police continue to seek further intelligence and information from the public so they can act on known routes for drug trafficking, and work with local authorities to protect vulnerable people identified as being coerced in such activity.
Officers from the OCCU are working closely with each divisional organised crime team to continue to develop intelligence and understand the key areas where it's believed children and vulnerable adults are subject to exploitation.
Before Monday's action in Wigan, officers from GMP had already conducted 31 stop searches, made 11 arrests, seized 17 vehicles and over 6kg of class A drugs, and recovered a handgun since the start of the operation.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Mossop, from GMP’s OCCU, said: “Op Flood is an enhanced proactive operation dedicated to tackling and disrupting county lines networks operating in and out of Greater Manchester that continue to control illegal drugs and exploit vulnerable people for illicit gains.
“This initiative is taking place across the Force-area and is an intelligence-led approach that sees focused resources deployed in line with evidence we have, and continue to collect, through our own work and information from the public.
“Specialist resources are being utilised to relentlessly pursue individuals with a view to arrest suspects, remove controlled drugs from the streets, tackle illicit finances, investigate upstream supply, and identify any avenues to disrupt those involved in the recruitment of vulnerable individuals who are coerced into such activity.
“We have seen in our day of action in Wigan the results of working on the front foot with neighbouring forces to target and surge disruption activity on lines operating in and out of Greater Manchester. This work will continue right across our patch in the weeks to come.
“As is always the case with such complex criminality we work closely with partners in local authorities to ensure appropriate safeguarding measures are taken where necessary and the policing element of this operation is a crucial elementary tool to gather intelligence.
“I hope the public feel encouraged by the activity they are seeing and have the confidence to contact police or Crimestoppers with information of any suspicious activity or individuals they worry are concerned in county lines exploitation.
“It is so important you report to us on our website, by calling 101, or by anonymously contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Always call 999 in an emergency.”