Significant seizure increases in Class A drugs and weapons

Images from SEROCU firearms Op Hurricane. Photo credit: NPCC

Policing leads have praised the country’s specialist organised crime units for significantly increasing their seizures of class A drugs and dangerous weapons in the last three years.

Both NPCC lead for Serious and Organised Crime, Chief Constable Chris Haward and Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst, NPCC lead for the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) Network have praised staff and officers for their continued fight against the threat posed by criminal gangs. 

Since 2021, the ROCU network, which specialises in tackling cross-border criminality involving drugs, exploitation, and serious violence has seen heroin seizures increase by 1293%, and cocaine seizures increase by 502%.

During the same time period, firearms seizures increased by 421% and the number of adults safeguarded rose by 145%.

One of those investigations which contributed greatly to the increase in firearms seizures was Operation Hurricane, led by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU). 

Three men were jailed having purchased a large number of top venting blank firearms. More than 70 prohibited handguns have been seized since last October. A selection of those seized were tested and confirmed as having been converted into viable firearms.

Officers also found a large amount of blank ammunition, some of which had been converted into live ammunition along with various parts of firearms such as slides, magazines and cleaning kits.

The three defendants were jailed for more than 32 years in connection with the conspiracy and a further off-shoot operation launched in the Eastern Region, known as Op Cyclone.

This investigation saw a further 35 handguns seized, along with hundreds of rounds of converted ammunition and 60KG of Class A Drugs.

So far eight people have been charged, and four defendants pleaded guilty and await sentence.

Praising the work NPCC Lead for Serious and Organised Crime (SOC), Chief Constable Chris Haward said:

“This type of criminality is corrosive and complex and once it takes hold in a community, it can be incredibly difficult to remove.

“All too often we see these gangs start to make money and then use violence, exploitation and other abhorrent tactics to ensure they remain unchallenged. This is why it’s so important as police, we are relentless in our pursuit of offenders, and in disrupting their networks and supply chain.

“These figures show that between 2021 and 2023, officers and staff from across the ROCU network did just that and the increases are significant. I have no doubt that this front-foot action to take harmful substances and dangerous weapons out of circulation has saved lives and helped to re-build communities.”

Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst, NPCC Lead for the ROCU Network added: “These figures speak for themselves and show what can be achieved when dedicated officers and staff from across the network, do what they do best.

“Both Op Hurricane and Op Cyclone show the danger these groups present our communities and cannot be complacent.

“As our capabilities improve, so do the tactics deployed by these organised crime groups, so law enforcement cannot stand still and we must continue to work closely with forces and partners like the National Crime Agency to identify, disrupt and tackle the complex threat posed.

“I’d like to thank our officers and staff for their commitment, professionalism and dedication. It’s only by working together we can make a difference.”

You can read more about the ROCU network and regional operations here: Regional Organised Crime Units (


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