£2m worth of drugs removed from streets of Suffolk by specialist Scorpion team
Drugs with an estimated street value of £2million have been removed from the streets of Suffolk in the last 12 months by a specialist police unit.
Suffolk police's Scorpion team, which launched in 2015, battles drug-related crime and the threat of 'county lines' as well as working to combat child sex offences and deny criminals use of the roads.
The Scorpion teams, which are split into Ipswich, Bury and Lowestoft branches, cover the whole of the county and made 365 arrests last year, according to police figures.
The specialist unit also attended 86 planned operations in 2019 and executed 82 drug warrants along with 48 warrants to protect vulnerable children.
More than 3,500 exhibits were also seized by Scorpion teams last year.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Ben Clark said the flexible Scorpion teams can be deployed to a variety of different incidents.
"It's not a jack of all trades, but we ask our Scorpion teams to do a lot," he said. "Some days they are in uniform, other days they are working plain clothes trying to tackle crime on our terms.
"If we've got a problem of drug dealing in an area, we can deploy our Scorpion teams in plain clothes, who can approach those individuals, search them and apprehend them while we're on the front foot.
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"But it's not uncommon to see Scorpion teams in uniform, we deployed teams to the Bury Christmas market in November to bulk the local policing.
"There really is a wide breadth of what these teams can do, they're multi-functional. They're really flexible and I know us as a constabulary are really grateful for the commitment we get from our Scorpion teams and I know our local policing commanders are as well.
A week of action, named Operation Drawbridge, has taken place in Ipswich this week with raids at a number of addresses in the town.
A cannabis factory inside a two-bed flat in St George's Street, worth an estimated £30,000, was one of the team's raids on Tuesday.
Klodian Nikoci pleaded guilty to producing class B drugs at Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Wednesday and will be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court at a date to be fixed.
"It's not just about exhibits, money and drug seizures, and warrants and arrests, one of the biggest things is identifying hidden crime, protecting some of the most vulnerable in our communities," T/DCI Clark added.
"We know from county lines that people are being exploited, we know about cuckooing, so it is about catching criminals but it's also about keeping people safe.
"I know it sounds clichéd but it is about us keeping Suffolk safe and catching criminals. Our Chief Constable Steve Jupp is very clear - we're here to catch criminals, lock up bad people and, hand-in-hand, keep people and our communities safe.
"If you're going to deal drugs in Suffolk, the message to you is it won't be tolerated by us. We have the resources available and really good relationships with our partners and we will pursue you and bring you to justice."