DOZENS of serious criminals across the North West have been arrested as part of the United Kingdom’s biggest ever law enforcement operation.

Operation Venetic has seen entire organised crime groups dismantled with almost 750 arrests and the seizure of £54m of criminal cash, 77 firearms and more than two tonnes of drugs to date.

And as part of the major operation the North West Special Operations Unit has arrested 93 people, seized £3.65 million in criminal cash, 10 firearms and 34 kg of Cocaine.

The operation, run by the National Crime Agency (NCA) with help from police forces across the country, involved the infiltration of an encrypted global communications system used by criminals for co-ordinating and distributing their illegal goods.

Local Conservative MP for Barrow and Furness, Simon Fell, praised the efforts of the NCA and police officers from (region) in taking criminals, weapons and drugs off our streets.

“This Government will be tough on crime and this major operation shows our agencies will not allow criminals to bring weapons and drugs to our streets,” Mr Fell said.

“I am sure people across Barrow and Furness will join me in thanking our police force in their part in this operation to help keep our streets and families safer from the scourge of crime.

“Of course, this is not the end of the war against crime, but it is a major success and will send the message we will continue to hunt down criminals and their gangs who are intent on making money and bringing fear to our communities through their illegal activities.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “This operation demonstrates that criminals will not get away with using encrypted devices to plot vile crimes under the radar.

“The NCA’s relentless targeting of these gangs has helped to keep us all safe. I congratulate them and law enforcement partners on this significant achievement.

“I will continue working closely with the NCA and others to tackle the use of such devices – giving them the resources, powers and tools they need to keep our country safe.”