They have been dubbed ‘the British FBI’, with the aim of bringing the UK’s most serious criminals to justice.
And despite having its official launch only recently, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has seized heroin with a street value of £9.5 million.
In the past few months, officers from the agency have taken more than 95 kilos of heroin off criminal gangs in a Europe-wide investigation on drug trafficking suspects.
During the investigation, which has involved police officers, the Spanish Guardia Civil and other international law enforcement agencies, officers have found heroin concealed in suitcases with hidden compartments, book covers and specially adapted clothing. Yesterday the hunt for suspected organised crime gangs was extended to the West Midlands with a series of dawn raids in the region.
Officers from the National Crime Agency carried out dawn raids on two addresses in Stourbridge which led to three arrests.
A 52-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman were arrested in Ridge Grove and a 52-year-old man was arrested in Barn Close, all on suspicion of being involved in the importation of heroin.
Last night, residents of Ridge Grove spoke of their shock as NCA officers swooped on a property in the usually quiet residential street. One man, who asked not to be named, said: “I had not long woke up and was making a cup of tea at 7am when I heard a loud, crashing noise.
“I went outside and there were officers everywhere and the front door of a house was lying on the ground.
“There must have been five NCA vans and two police cars altogether. Quite a few people started to gather around to see what was going on.
“The officers led a man and the woman out of the house in handcuffs. It was a big surprise.”
Addresses were also raided in Birmingham and Bradford, leading to three further arrests.
Richard Warner, of the NCA, said: “These arrests are a major success for the NCA and its partners. Tackling the supply of drugs on a global level is a priority for the agency.
“The NCA’s national remit and effective partnerships, which cross national and international boundaries, mean we have the capability to pursue criminals relentlessly wherever they are in the world.”
Those arrested were being interviewed at police stations in Birmingham as the investigation continues.