Following a ten-week intelligence led operation in the Fraserburgh and Peterhead areas which targeted the activities of predominantly England-based Organised Crime Groups (OCGs), significant high profile multi agency activity will take place across the area over the next two weeks.
The operation focused on the principles of these OCGs and also on individuals within these communities who assist the groups on a day to day basis and without whom their criminal activity could not take place. It is recognised that some of these individuals are willing to undertake these roles for their own personal gain but it is also important to recognise that some of these individuals are the victims of exploitation by criminal groups.
The intelligence-led operation has been carried out as part of efforts to tackle “cuckooing” and “county lines” drug dealers who target members of the community to store or deal drugs on their behalf whilst they remain out-with Scotland.
Covert activity has uncovered evidence of OCGs operating in the Fraserburgh and Peterhead areas and since Friday, October, 19, a total of 20 people have been arrested in connection with this operation. Some have been or will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal and others will be provided with necessary support. Those appearing at court are expected to appear at Peterhead Sheriff Court.
Police Scotland, alongside partners from Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership and Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership have been working together during the operation to address the associated issues that drug dealing and substance misuse brings.
The individuals who have been arrested and taken into custody are being provided with additional support in order to encourage them to break the cycle of substance misuse.
Detective Chief Inspector Lorna Ferguson said: “Tackling drug misuse is not just about the police putting doors in and executing warrants. Whilst this is an important part of disrupting the supply, we must also address the wider issues that bring about drug abuse in the first place.
“Working with our partners, we are focused on providing the wrap around support to those who need and want it, to end the cycle that drug abuse brings and ultimately reduce the demand.
“Providing people with support in relation to housing, health and employment is just some of the steps we can take to encourage those with substance and alcohol additions to seek help.
“However, we will also continue to pursue criminals who travel typically from the north west of England to deal drugs in the North East. We are clearly hearing from our local communities that illegal drug activity is not wanted or welcome here and we will take action to disrupt this behaviour.
“These drug dealers exploit people in the local community in order to establish themselves to sell or store drugs. We rely on information from the public about this kind of suspicious behaviour and I would like to encourage anyone with information to speak to us.”
Detective Inspector Rob Sim from the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit in Aberdeen said: “We are committed to disrupting the activities of those involved in serious and organised crime at all levels, particularly those who travel to the north east to exploit the drug market for their own financial gain.
“This operation has been commissioned to target Organised Crime Groups that we know are operating in our local communities as well as to target the local drug dealers they are using at street level.
“We will continue to work with other law enforcement partners throughout the UK in order to identify and take action against those who are profiting from the illegal supply of controlled drugs here in the north east, regardless of where they are based.”
Dawn Leslie, Manager for Community Justice and Substance Misuse Services on behalf of the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Problematic Substance Use in all its different forms can have a devastating impact on individuals, children, families and communities. We have a duty to work together across all community justice partners which includes both statutory and third sector agencies.
“A collaborative response is the most effective in combatting the negative impact of substance misuse. We can then provide the opportunity for individuals to engage in support and intervention so that the negative physical, social and emotional impact of substance misuse can be addressed.”
Wayne Gault on behalf of Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership said: “We should never forget that many of the individuals that suffer with addictions are distressed and in crisis. They are the victims of unscrupulous drug dealers who are only concerned about the money they can make. In many cases, these people are themselves vulnerable and anything that we can do to break the cycle of addiction and harm is absolutely the right thing to do.”