A total of 37 people have been arrested as part of the operation in the region, with nine remanded in custody as part of national clampdown on serious and organised crime.
In the North East, nine firearms were recovered, 91kg of drugs – cocaine, amphetamine, MDMA and Ketamine – seized as well as thousands of cannabis plants destroyed and a range of cars taken by police.
What is the operation?
As part of a national clampdown called Operation Venetic, officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) have been carrying out coordinated strikes, tactical vehicle stops and raids – alongside teams from Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police forces – since March.
It follows months of planning and undercover work by European Law enforcement agencies who successfully gained access to an encrypted means of criminal communication being used to carry out their activity under the radar.
Thousands of handsets were monitored and millions of messages analysed before police forces began targeting some of the most dangerous individuals operating in their communities.
Which items were seized from organised crime units?
1200 cannabis plants and 10kg cannabis bush
41kg Mixing agents
12 encrypted devices
338 rounds ammunition
What impact does organised crime have?
Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson, from NERSOU, said: “Organised crime is anything which is planned, coordinated and conducted by brazen individuals who want nothing more than to turn a profit.
“This operation sends a clear message that we will do all we can to bring these people to justice and seize any assets achieved through criminal means.
“This has been a clear priority for us and the three police forces of Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland since we launched Operation Sentinel last January, our overarching dedicated initiative to target this type of activity.
“Organised crime can devastate our communities and can often see the exploitation of children and vulnerable people.
“While it’s amazing to see such large recoveries of drugs and firearms – it’s important we continue our work so these groups are dismantled and can no longer operate.
“Community intelligence is vital to this and we hope this activity gives people the confidence to approach their local force with any information that can help us tackle serious and organised crime.”
How important was the operation?
Jayne Lloyd, NCA Regional Head of Investigations for the North, said: “Operation Venetic is the broadest and most significant co-ordinated assault on UK organised crime groups ever seen.
“Criminals who believed they were operating anonymously in the shadows of technology, have and are still being exposed, this is causing criminals grave concern.
“Together with our partners in the UK and abroad, we have protected the public by arresting those who thought they were untouchable as they conducted their illegal activities within our communities.”
Want to report something suspicious? You can contact your local force on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.