Hunt for foreign criminals ‘hiding in plain sight’ in Leicester leads to dozens of arrests.
THIRTY people were arrested during a week-long operation aimed at locating foreign national offenders (FNOs) wanted by police and other organisations in other countries.
Operation Once saw officers from Leicester police focrce work alongside partner agencies to “disrupt and target criminals from other countries” currently living in the city.
“The purpose of the operation was to bring those involved in crime both in the UK and overseas to justice and also protect vulnerable people who are at risk of harm from criminal activity,” said a police spokesperson.
On Monday. September 28, officers assisted East Midlands immigration colleagues at premises in Leicester, where four people found to be in the UK illegally were arrested.
A further four people were arrested after being wanted on warrant. Two of those were detained under a European Arrest Warrant for offences in Poland.
The following day, a warrant was executed at an address in Gypsy Lane, Leicester, where nearly 200 cannabis plants were recovered and an Albanian national was arrested on behalf of another force.
On Wednesday, September 30, a targeted operation took place on the West Leicester neighbourhood policing area (NPA), where assistance was provided by the force’s roads policing unit (RPU).
“One person was arrested for failing to stop for police and another arrested for using fraudulent identification documents. As a result of further enquiries, officers recovered just over £366,000 in cash,” added the spokesperson.
A number of other properties were searched, resulting in eight vehicles and 70 cannabis plants being recovered, with three further arrests.
Thursday saw a Hungarian national – with a previous conviction for murder and for who a European arrest warrant had been issued – detained.
A Polish national was also arrested for offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). During the day teams also carried out enquiries around possible modern slavery and exploitation offences.
A further eight people were arrested on Friday as officers uncovered two further cannabis grows, resulting in plants being recovered.
A 30-year-old Albanian national has been charged with offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act and remanded in custody. A 32-year-old man and 22-year-old woman who were also arrested remain on police bail.
Detective Sergeant Gary Bee, from the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), oversaw the operation.
He said: “Op Once was put into practice as a result of information collated and passed on to us that established a number of criminals wanted in other countries were living in Leicester.
“As a result of our proactive approach, 30 people were arrested over a five-day period.
“A significant part of the operation was focussed in the area around Narborough Road, on the West Leicester NPA, where we know there’s a very diverse makeup across the community. Unfortunately, what this means is that foreign national offenders are able to hide in plain sight.
“We know that vulnerable people living in this area have been exploited by these criminals, who may belong to organised crime groups.
“Focussing our attention to this area of the city in particular meant we were able to trace and arrest those individuals and also safeguard those at risk of harm. Many of these people have been passed on to partner organisations to be dealt with moving forward.
“As a force, we will continue taking a proactive and joined-up approach to tackle serious and organised crime affecting our communities and we will endeavour to bring those responsible to justice.”
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