An industrial-scale laboratory believed to have been producing large quantities of amphetamine has been uncovered as part of a National Crime Agency investigation.
NCA investigators, supported by officers from Warwickshire Police, arrested a 26-year-old man and a woman aged 28 during Tuesday’s raid on farm buildings on Ullenhall Lane, near Redditch.
Two men aged 40 and 60 were arrested in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, as part of the inquiry into an organised crime group believed to be running the drugs operation using the encrypted phone network EncroChat.
A fifth suspect, a 50-year-old man suspected of operating the lab, was arrested at his home address in Quinton, Birmingham.
All five are still in custody being interviewed.
The NCA said it believes a crime group was producing around one tonne of amphetamine per month, worth £2 million wholesale and up to £10 million at street level, for distribution to criminals throughout the country.
NCA Branch Commander Peter Stevens said: “This illicit drugs lab was producing extremely large amounts of amphetamine for distribution to crime groups across the UK and into our communities, bringing with it violence, fear and exploitation.
“The operation, which required a huge amount of planning to ensure it was conducted safely, will have had a huge impact on the organised crime groups involved, depriving them of commodity and profit.
“This work also shows the value and power of working with law enforcement agencies, including Warwickshire Police who have provided specialist resources, to take down high-harm criminals.”
Assistant Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith, from Warwickshire Police, said: “The illegal drug trade causes great harm to communities across Warwickshire and the rest of the country.
“We have worked closely with our colleagues in the NCA to support this operation with significant and specialist resources and are confident that the impact it will have on the organised criminal gangs involved will be huge.
“Such an operation taking place in such a quiet, rural location will no doubt have caused some concerns for people in the area. Our officers will be working with people in the local community in the coming days to provide reassurance.”
Searches of the farm buildings are ongoing, with support from specialist teams from West Midlands Police, West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Ambulance Service.Handout photo of the industrial-scale laboratory (NCA)