POLICE have sent a warning to drugs barons living a life of luxury that they have them in their sights, writes Claire Lewis.
Officers raided the homes of five suspects after a lengthy operation aimed at smashing drug trafficking networks.
The suspects, two of whom were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, were described by detectives as the ‘movers and shakers in the drugs world’, and are believed to be involved in the importation of cocaine destined for the county’s streets.
The drug is then sold on to dealers further down the supply chain, netting the sellers tens of thousands of pounds a time - with one kilo of cocaine having a street value today of £55,000.
Operation Manifest targeted drug dealing suspects leading flash lifestyles, living in plush homes, driving fast cars and enjoying expensive holidays.
Police gathered intelligence from a number of sources, including from local residents suspicious about how the suspects were funding such lifestyles with no apparent legitimate means.
But some do claim to run businesses, which police believe are in fact a ‘front’ to enable them to launder drug dealing money.
One of those arrested - a man in his 40s - was stopped driving a van along Park Avenue, Dinnington. Police in high-powered traffic cars pursued the van before boxing the vehicle in.
Officers a mile away then raided one of the man’s two homes - a luxury new-build worth around £400,000.
The gated house, with a water feature, sophisticated security system, double garage, outbuildings, and huge sun room annexe, has marble and oak flooring and a top spec kitchen.
A woman in her 20s was also arrested.
Officers from South Yorkshire’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit ran the operation, and said there are months of work ahead.
The finances of each suspect will be examined in painstaking detail to account for every pound they have spent on assets and every penny they have in banks, property or other investments.
If charged and convicted, the suspects could lose all their ill-gotten gains through the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Chief Inspector Nick Whitehouse, responsible for neighbourhood policing, said: “This is the culmination of a protracted inquiry over several months. We will continue to target those involved in this criminality and tackle the issues the public are concerned about.
“Those who think they are above the law, and think they can get away with it and live above their means with ill-gotten gains, will be tracked down and caught and brought to justice.”
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Wilkie, who led the raids, added: “The people we are looking at are the movers and shakers in the drugs world - perhaps the highest in the county in South Yorkshire.
“These people generally portray or have a business, to give some sort of legitimacy to their criminality, but the majority of local people know how these people have made their money.
“Intercepting people at this level will cut off a lot of the supply, but I am not naive that someone won’t move in and take that market over. The trick is to make sure we are on top of it.
“Anybody doing this type of thing will be constantly looking over their shoulder - we do know who they are and at some point they will be arrested.
“Anyone tempted to fill the gap has to be aware their time will come, and they will be brought to justice.”