A bold multi-agency targeted action plan – codenamed Operation Vulcan – designed to rid Cheetham Hill and Strangeways of criminal activity.
Cheetham Hill and Strangeways is well-known across the UK as the place to go for cheap, fake designer goods. Figures vary but the trade in counterfeit goods is estimated by National Trading Standards to be worth £8.6 billion per year, with the area of Cheetham Hill believed to be linked to almost 50% of this trade, earning it the title of the UK capital for counterfeit.
The hidden cost of counterfeit
Counterfeit trade is perceived by many as a ‘harmless crime’ but did you know that this sophisticated crime network fuels more serious crime in the area including:
In the last 12 months, 31 deaths in the north west region have been directly linked to the illicit prescription medication. 12 of these were in Greater Manchester.
Some of the drugs being sold are several times more addictive than heroin and national patterns indicate the death rate is likely to increase unless action is taken.
A single operation in November 2022 resulted in the recovery of 1 million tablets of illicit prescription medication.
Operation Vulcan is designed to actively target those involved in the supply and purchase of illicit medication and illegal drugs in the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways areas.
In 2021, there were 54 modern slavery incidents in Cheetham Hill that were notified to Greater Manchester Police.
The cost of exploited labour in Cheetham Hill means it is cheaper for businesses in Greater Manchester to transport dirty pots from miles around to be cleaned by exploited workers in Cheetham Hill, rather than pay the minimum wage to wash them in their own restaurants.
There is a now a well-established trade in sexual exploitation that sees predominately foreign nationals being put at risk on a daily basis around the streets of Cheetham Hill.
Operation Vulcan is working in partnership to target those who organise illegal immigration and exploit vulnerable victims.
People with illegitimate immigration status are being paid just £20 per day to deal vast quantities of drugs on the streets of Cheetham Hill.
Organised criminals are using extreme violence to enforce their enterprises. The last 12 months has seen a significant increase in the use of kidnap as a tool to demand payment for illegal immigration.
Many of those with illegitimate immigration status become victims of serious crimes by the very organised crime groups that brought them to this country. Due to the fear of being deported they rarely report this to the police so suffer in silence.
Operation Vulcan is focused on disrupting illegal immigration networks and targeting those who exploit vulnerable victims.
Money laundering costs the UK more than £100 billion per year. The network of money laundering not only undermines the UK economy but places vast sums into organised crime and terrorism.
Much of Cheetham Hill operates on cash only as this is then diverted into other criminal ventures. A recent cash seizure in Cheetham Hill amounted to £60,000.
Operation Vulcan is clamping down hard on organised crime groups using businesses as a façade for money laundering in the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways area.
It is widely accepted that Cheetham Hill is the UK (if not EU) capital of counterfeit goods representing 50% of counterfeit goods trade, highlighting the amount of money flowing back into organised crime groups.
Raids carried out by police in late 2021 resulted in 200 tonnes of counterfeit goods being seized and a market value of £500 million.
In January 2022, two children were admitted to hospital after consuming counterfeit vape products sold in Cheetham Hill.
Operation Vulcan will put an end to the sale of counterfeit goods in Cheetham Hill and the subsequent proceeds of crime associated with the profits.
Data for A&E attendance involving assaults shows that between December 2019 and November 2021, Cheetham ward had the fourth highest count in Manchester.
In the period from 1st August 2019 - 19th December 2021 vehicle offences were disproportionately high in Cheetham ward, with a high number of violent, theft and public order offences reported last year alone.
Many incidences of violent disorder are directly linked to drug dealing in the area.
Operation Vulcan is protecting vulnerable victims of crime and is set on actively deterring criminals from operating in the area.