Police tell Staffordshire gangs 'we’re coming for you'
Forty organised crime gangs are on the radar of detectives in Staffordshire with police chiefs warning: ‘We’re coming after you’.
At least 11 criminal gangs have been disrupted and more than 50 mobsters snared by Staffordshire’s Major and Organised Crime Department in one of its most successful years in the war against crime bosses.
Today head of the elite unit Detective Superintendent Simon Duffy said drugs remain the biggest industry for gangs but he revealed many were using ‘legitimate’ businesses to mask their criminal enterprises.
“Their end game is always around status or money,” he said. “They are opportunist and sometimes they are far from organised.
“There is no definitive for what their crimes may be – it could be drugs, it could be modern day slavery, it could be illegal waste dumping.
“We maintain a list of organised crime gangs and in recent years we are getting smarter about the way we manage them.
“We have had a number of successful convictions this year and the message does get out. We are on the front foot.”
Mr Duffy, who has 30 years experience, said police aim to ‘prevent, pursue, and disrupt’ around 40 gangs operating in and around the county.
Among the successes was a cocaine and amphetamine racket that operated in Cannock, Stafford, and Walsall which was smashed by detectives and saw five gangs across the Midlands hit with 23 people being sent to jail for 130 years. Kingpins John Appleton and Michael O’ Mahoney, from Cannock, got 14 years each while their henchmen and associates are serving between eight years and 14 months behind bars.
Wolverhampton brothers Thomas, Lee and Gavin Cotterill, from Burntwood, were also jailed as part of a separate burglary and robbery gang that operated in the city, Walsall, and South Staffordshire villages such as Codsall and Brewood.
They also smashed a Romanian gang that set up camp and cycled to jewellers across England in a series of burglaries where they stole more than £3.1m worth of goods. Amongst the crooks was Vasile Daniel Cardos, 26, of Halesowen Street, Rowley Regis.
And more than 50 arrests were made this year across the Black Country and the wider West Midlands as part of a huge drug running empire that moved drugs out of Birmingham and Wolverhampton into Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire, by the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit.
Earlier this year West Midlands Police revealed it was tracking 84 crime groups across the region.
“It’s a game of cat and mouse, and it is not always easy for criminal masterminds to accept they have lost,” he added.
Mr Duffy said that drugs trafficking remained the most attractive ‘industry’ for gangs. He said: “There’s a lot to be exploited and a lot of money to be made,” he said.“We have seen what used to be called ‘legal highs’ flood the market and even certain chemicals being sold. These people cannot resist the chance to make easy cash by exploiting often vulnerable people.”
He revealed ‘a lot of work’ had gone into working with councils and other public bodies to identify ‘legitimate’ businesses being run by crime bosses to launder money.
He said: “Gangs are clever and they try to legitimise their money by legitimate means. There have been cases where public bodies have been using services which are a front to crime gangs. We are putting a stop to that.”
The top officer also stressed that the force would chase and seek to bring down those at the top of criminal gangs – not just their underlings.
“We target those at the top of criminal networks,” he said.