£430k illicit cash seized at Luton Airport while officers confiscate £1.8m drugs from streets of Bedfordshire

Police officers seized around £1.8m worth of street drugs in a clampdown on dealers across Bedfordshire last year.

Police also clawed back more than £900,000 from criminal groups operating in the county, with those linked to organised crime groups sentenced to more than 300 years behind bars across 2019.

Beds Police seized huge sums of drugs and illicit cash last year

Beds Police seized huge sums of drugs and illicit cash last year

Around £100,000 of this money will be spent on policing as well as local good causes in Bedfordshire.

Drug experts from Bedfordshire Police gave evidence in 199 drug trafficking cases last year – a 67 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

Within those cases, an estimated £1,786,500 worth of illegal street drugs were seized, alongside £151,371 in cash.

Meanwhile the economic crime unit from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) seized a total of £916,589 across Bedfordshire last year.

This included 49 cash forfeiture orders on behalf of Bedfordshire Police, totalling £436,519. The bulk of this money was seized by a specialist team at London Luton Airport.

Half of this money is split between police forces across the region, with some £32,673 to be reinvested directly back into policing in Bedfordshire.

Financial investigators at ERSOU also took advantage of powers under the Criminal Finances Act to freeze bank accounts suspected of harbouring dirty money.

Seven bank accounts with a total of £447,403 in them were frozen and forfeited, with £33,488 of this money set to be put back into frontline policing in Bedfordshire.

A further £33,199 was seized by ERSOU after 32 successful convictions by Bedfordshire Police.

The force receives all of this money, with some of it given to YouTurn and other local charities.

Detective Superintendent David Cestaro said: “Serious and organised criminals operating in the UK sexually exploit children and ruthlessly target the most vulnerable.

"Be it modern slavery or drug dealing, much of their core business involves the exploitation of vulnerable people to line their own pockets.

“Our ground breaking drugs market profile as well as the Government’s serious violence strategy all show lucrative drugs markets underpinning serious and organised crime.

“These results show the relentless focus our force has on responding to this threat. We and our colleagues at ERSOU will continue to work proactively and collaboratively to tackle this scourge, protect vulnerable people, and lock dangerous offenders up.”

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Williams, head of ERSOU’s economic crime unit, added: “Our economic crime unit work tirelessly to strip criminals of their assets and ensure that they do not profit from their illegal activity.

“This includes maximising our use of legislation to freeze money which is believed to have been acquired through crime.

“We had some fantastic results in the last year across the region and we’re really pleased that some of this money seized has gone back into frontline policing.”