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Police smash nine heroin and crack cocaine-pushing gangs in Britain’s biggest ever county lines drugs bust as dealers are jailed for more than 120 years after undercover sting op named after James Bond villain Ernst Blofeld


  • Operation Blofeld was ‘one of the largest, most concentrated drug busts ever’

Police have uncovered Britain’s largest ever county lines drugs bust sa a total of 49 gangsters have been jailed for more than 120 years. 

Operation Blofeld – named after the shadowy Bond villain – saw nine County Lines gangs, who were running heroin and crack cocaine into Chesterfield from South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Birmingham, targeted and dismantled.

The bust, which saw hundreds of officers involved, began with an undercover officer gathering intelligence on the gangs. Then over the course of four weeks in 2022 60 people were arrested in targeted raids across the four counties.

Alongside the arrests officers seized £73k in cash, machetes, tasers and pepper spray, along with significant amounts of crack, heroin, cocaine, and cannabis.

Such was the weight of evidence collected by the team, most of the 49 gang members convicted for their parts in the dealing pleaded guilty during court hearings throughout 2023. The sentences so far have seen 45 of the members given 121 years in jail.

Detective Inspector Simon Cartwright, who led the investigation as a sergeant in the OCG team, said: ‘Operation Blofeld was one of the largest, most concentrated pieces of work targeting County Lines drug gangs that the county has ever seen.

A look at some of the £73k in cash that was seized alongside machetes, tasers and pepper spray

A look at some of the £73k in cash that was seized alongside machetes, tasers and pepper spray

The undercover operation targeting county drug lines is the largest in Britain

The undercover operation targeting county drug lines is the largest in Britain

‘The work the team did, led by officer in the case DC Andrew Ryans, was outstanding. It saw nine county lines gangs dismantled and violent crime rates dropped in the areas where the gangs were operating.

‘The community also reacted positively to the work with increased reporting into the force about drug crimes and anti-social behaviour.’

The team also worked closely with partner agencies to help ensure that, after the gangs had been removed, that further work was done to help ensure they did not return.

That partnership work saw seven people referred into the National Referral Mechanism under concerns they had been victims of Modern Slavery.

DC Andrew Ryans, said: ‘Sometimes it can be a case of whack-a-mole when it comes to targeting drugs gangs – as soon as you remove one then you find that another springs up in its place.

‘During this operation we worked closely with partners to ensure that when a warrant was undertaken that follow up action was taken to ensure that those drug users were given support – and that the local community could feel confident in coming forward with information.

Hundreds of undercover officers were involved in gathering intelligence on the gangs

Hundreds of undercover officers were involved in gathering intelligence on the gangs

Over the course of four weeks in 2022 60 people were arrested in targeted raids across the four counties

Over the course of four weeks in 2022 60 people were arrested in targeted raids across the four counties

A look at some designer items that was also seized by the police in the operation

A look at some designer items that was also seized by the police in the operation

‘The message to the community was clear – if you come to us with information then we will take action – and that was clearly heard.

‘And the message to the drug dealers was also clear – it doesn’t matter where you are based, we will do everything in our power to find you and bring you to justice.’

Councillor Jonathan Davies, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: ‘It’s really positive that so many arrests were made during Operation Blofeld – preventing the sale of the drugs locally and protecting the community.

‘We do not tolerate drug dealing, and we continue to support Derbyshire Constabulary to crack down on it.

‘Each day we are working with officers to share information and help remove drug dealers from the borough.

‘I urge anyone who thinks drug dealing may be happening in their community to report it as soon as possible. Even the slightest bit of information could help to protect people and prevent drugs being sold.’



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