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Police identify UK drugs gangs targeting Jersey

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DETECTIVES have identified at least 11 criminal drugs gangs operating across the UK and further afield which are involved in organised crime in Jersey, the JEP can reveal.

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The Island has long been a target for drug criminals due to its sky-high street prices and general affluence. Global drug kingpin Curtis Warren is still serving time for a conspiracy to flood the Island’s streets with cannabis – an operation which had links to both the UK and Europe.

And now, for the first time, it has been revealed that the States police, together with authorities in the UK, have mapped at least 11 crime groups involved in drug supply to areas including Jersey.

As of 2018, a total of 22 gang members had been identified, 11 of whom were already in the criminal justice system.

So far this year, Customs has seized a record value of drugs worth more than £12.1 million. By comparison the border force seized £5.1 million worth of drugs in 2017 and last year combined.

This year’s figures are boosted by the largest single seizure of heroin Jersey has even known. Liverpool-based Alexander Daniel Cullen (29) is due to be sentenced this month for attempting to import £10 million worth of the class A drug.

The legacy of Warren’s failed drug conspiracy, together with other major foiled operations that have had links to Liverpool, has long raised the question of crime links between the Island and Merseyside – one of the UK’s major areas for drug crime.

Most recently in Jersey, Liverpudlian Alan Smitton was jailed for 17 years for masterminding two separate cannabis and heroin conspiracies. And in the past, numerous other criminals with links to the north west – including the dubbed ‘Selfie Smugglers’ who were sentenced in 2016 after they boldly took photographs of themselves as they landed thousands of pounds of heroin onboard on RIB – have been jailed by Jersey courts . Little did they know that undercover officers were watching their every move.

But Detective Sergeant James McGranahan, of the States police proactive crime team, told the JEP earlier this year that criminals across the UK, not just Merseyside, saw Jersey as a target.

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Now Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull, head of crime services for the States police, has said the force is aware of organised crimes across the UK and ‘further afield’.

‘We are aware of the activities of a number of groups and individuals from across the UK, and some further afield, who are involved in organised crime in Jersey in some way. We have employed National Intelligence Model processes and products for a number of years to track and analyse their activity and we work closely with our UK colleagues to ensure that we are employing the most up-to-date methods for undertaking this work,’ he said.

In a recent Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services report, the States police was criticised for lacking a ‘comprehensive understanding of the threat that serious and organised crime poses to its communities’. The report found the force focused too heavily on drug trafficking and lacked analysis of other areas such as modern slavery and child sexual exploitation.

The force was also criticised for its intelligence-gathering regarding serious organised crime and it was found that its intelligence unit was understaffed. The report also found that uniformed officers had not been informed of known organised crime groups and individuals.

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Acting deputy chief officer James Wileman said the criticisms highlighted the importance of the report.

‘I think work on serious organised crime is very important for Jersey. We know there is a drugs market here and we are establishing intelligence in terms of other areas too,’ he said.

He added that money set aside in the Government Plan was planned to go towards recruiting more police staff to work in the intelligence unit.

Following the inspection, but before the publication of the HMICFRS report, the police have adopted a new strategy which highlights key threats to Jersey including child sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, modern slavery and domestic violence. The list is called MoRILE [management of risk in law enforcement].

The force was praised by HMICFRS for its mapping of organised crime groups, something that, due to its autonomy, it is not obliged to do.

Det Supt Gull added: ‘The key areas highlighted in the report in respect of serious and organised crime have been, and remain, a priority for the force for some time now – identified and assessed through our strategic threat and risk assessment.

‘Our activity against identified OCGs is always intelligence-led and we have developed strategies in a number of key areas including child sexual exploitation, modern-day slavery and human trafficking, and cyber. We are also heavily involved in combatting drug trafficking and finance-related organised crime.’

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
author

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