Specialist equipment seized and arrests made following counterfeit drugs manufacturing crackdown

Four arrests have been made and specialist manufacturing equipment made to make millions of pounds worth of counterfeit prescription drugs has been seized following dawn raids in the region yesterday morning (17 May 2022).

A total of nine addresses were raided by officers in Salford and Wigan as part of a crackdown on the illegal supply and manufacturing of counterfeit prescription drugs where two sophisticated labs, believed to be where Diazepam pills are being made, were discovered. It’s estimated that both labs, on Albion Street in Salford and Lower Green Lane in Wigan, may have been making thousands of tablets an hour.

The operation, led by GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group (SOCG), was part of Greater Manchester Police’s commitment to taking drugs off the streets under Operation Cranium, a multi-agency response to prescription drugs and the sale of counterfeit medication mainly being sold around the Cheetham Hill area. Following proactive policing such as warrants, dedicated patrols and intelligence gathering, along with work alongside partners such as harm reduction visits to premises to offer advice and work with users and professionals to help those in need, the area has seen a drop in reported incidents and today’s raids are another huge step in finding those responsible for their supply and manufacturing.

Following warrants at a number of addresses, four men, aged 42 to 77, were all arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class C drugs. A 42-year-old was also further arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Around £20,000 in cash and assets including Rolex and Omega watches worth approximately £30,000 were seized, along with three firearms and ammunition taken from an address on Lower Green Lane in Astley, are awaiting further testing to see if they are viable.

Today’s action follows a seizure of over 2.6 million Benzodiazepine tablets on 1 April on the M61 motorway near Rivington Services where a man was arrested and charged with possession with intent to supply a controlled drug of Class C. Ehsan Ahamath, 12/04/1990, of Langley Road, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, is due to appear at Bolton Crown Court on 19 September 22.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Faulkner, from GMP’s SOCG, said: “Misuse of prescription drugs can lead to fatal consequences and there have already been several cases where people have become seriously ill or died as a result of acquiring them illegally.

“Illegal drugs and their distribution can not only blight communities, but can also pose a real harm and risk to both those in the community and those using and taking them. We regularly work with partners including Public Health England and the Greater Manchester Drugs Early Warning System which monitors new and emerging drugs that pose a real threat.

“We will not hesitate in taking action on those involved and today is a strong example of this whereby we’ve wiped out a clearly sophisticated set up and hopefully saved lives as a result. Today’s warrants are another huge step in our crackdown and it doesn’t stop here.”

Parts and mechanical items from inside the suspected labs are currently in the process of being dismantled and investigated.

DCI Faulkner added: “I can’t emphasise enough the dangers of taking these drugs without a relevant prescription and dosage guidance from a healthcare professional. Illicit supplies of prescription drugs may be counterfeit or adulterated and anyone purchasing such drugs cannot be sure of their origin or what they may have been mixed with. Packages may also contain incorrect dosage information.

“Our best fight against those who would seek to profit from drugs supply are members of the public, on whom we rely to report suspicious activity. If you suspect someone is illegally supplying prescription or counterfeit prescription drugs, report it online.

Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “People’s lives can be destroyed by the misuse of prescription drugs and anyone taking advantage of this for their own gain needs to be found and brought to justice.

“Today’s operation is a really positive step forward to not only take action against those responsible for these crimes, but to also help get control of an illegal drug market that has such a negative impact on our communities.

“The illegal supply of any drug carries so much danger for those purchasing and using them as there is no way of knowing where it has come from or how it’s been produced. Police will continue to gather intelligence and crackdown on markets like this which inevitably lead to the deterioration of neighbourhoods and increased anti-social behaviour and violence.”

GMP are continuing to take part in the National Firearms Surrender, whereby people are urged to surrender any unwanted guns and ammunition or illegal firearms. Legislation around firearms is regularly updated and changed and a risk remains of having firearms which could end up being illegal. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that they meet the relevant ownership requirements and the current surrender gives members of the public the opportunity to hand them over.

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