An elite police unit set up to take down the North-west’s most hardened criminals is celebrating after reaching a landmark in the amount of prison time handed down to them.
‘Titan’, the Regional Organised Crime Unit, hit the 2000 year mark after former businesswoman Paula White from Manchester was jailed for nine years for running a website which sold millions of pounds of so-called ‘legal highs’ to thousands of people around the world.
Titan’s ‘Operation Maple’ was the largest police investigation into the sale of these substances to date and also led to the imprisonment of six other people involved in White’s illegal business.
The unit, which is a collaboration of police officers and civilian support staff from the North-west’s six individual police forces together with a range of multi-agency partners, is aiming to reach the 3000 year mark as it continues to target serious and organised crime in all its forms.
Detective Superintendent Jason Hudson, who is head of operations at Titan, said: “In just six years our investigations have led to criminals being imprisoned for 2000 years and our work will continue onto the next landmark.
“Our aim is to go after the organised crime groups operating in the North-west and beyond who pose the greatest risk of causing the most harm to decent, law-abiding people across the region.
“Our officers come from these communities and care about protecting them and that is what we have done and will continue to do.
“Already, criminal groups from Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, and North Wales have been dismantled by Titan investigations and we will continue to target drug smugglers, gun runners, fraudsters, money launderers and cyber criminals.
“The people operating in this top-tier of criminality do not stick to county borders and neither do we. We have achieved this success thanks to the collaboration we enjoy with the six police forces here in the North-west as well as other law enforcement and criminal justice partners such as the National Crime Agency, the Crown Prosecution Service, UK Border Force, HM Revenue and Customs, Police Scotland and other ROCUs (regional organised crime units).
“My message to these criminals is simple: Those involved in serious and organised crime can have no hiding place in the North West. They will be identified, targeted, and brought to justice. They will assist in meeting our next objective which is to reach 3000 years imprisonment”
Titan’s wide-ranging operations have now involved arresting criminals in every county of the UK and Titan officers have worked alongside colleagues in every police force in England and Wales.
Some of their biggest operations to date are:
• Operation Blenheim – 30-strong gang of Merseyside and Scottish criminals led by self-styled ‘Scouse Pablo Escobar’ father and son due Christopher Welsh Snr and Christopher Welsh Jnr jailed for a total of 300 years after TITAN cracked a £100 m heroin and cocaine trafficking conspiracy
• Operation Redstart – notorious Liverpool brothers Stephen and Peter Clarke and their gang jailed for 115 years for selling £4m of heroin and cocaine to drug dealers in Cheshire, Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside as well as using an arsenal of hidden weapons to protect their lucrative criminal business
• Operation Redbank – Warrington international drug trafficker Richard Woodhouse jailed for masterminding the importation and distribution of half a tonne of cocaine using a 22-strong gang of associates from Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. The gang were jailed for a total of 247 years and included Woodhouse’s wife who Titan detectives proved was integral in the running of her husband’s business while he was serving time in prison for… drug trafficking.
• Operation Tarim – Rochdale-based crime group led by Jason Seale with right-hand man Byron Milne jailed for 92 years for importing Ectasy, amphetamines and cannabis into the UK from Holland hidden in food produce brought in on wagons
• Operation Portrush – seven men and women from Liverpool and south London jailed for 43 years for smuggling a million pounds worth of cocaine hidden in tins of Jamaican spices through small, regional airports in the UK and Europe where they believed (wrongly it turned out) that they could escape detection with the help of a corrupt baggage handler who was also caught by Titan detectives working alongside the Met
• Operation Knot – 13-strong gang from North-west England, South Wales and Scotland unlucky enough to come up against Titan while trying to distribute heroin, cocaine and amphetamines in vast quantities from Merseyside to Lancashire, Cheshire, Glasgow and Cardiff. The organised crime group’s downfall came after local officers stopped cars being driven by gang members in Crosby and Rainhill and found massive quantities of heroin and cocaine hidden inside. The 13 defendants got 152 years between them for their crimes.
To find out more about all of Titan’s other investigations and operations and to access material such as photographs of seized drugs and weapons visitwww.titanrocu.org.uk
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