Five arrests made in Cliftonville were part of a major international operation to tackle organised crime.
More than £330,000 in cash, around £40,000 worth of class A drugs and a sawn-off shotgun were seized in Kent as part of the operation.
Kent Police has been working closely with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and other policing partners where, overall, thousands of individuals have been identified as being involved in organised crime across the UK and Europe.
A bespoke encrypted global mobile service called EncroChat, used exclusively by suspected criminals, has been shut down after UK law enforcement cracked the company’s encryption.
The encrypted handsets allowed users to securely communicate on a platform which up until now was impenetrable. International partners have now successfully accessed and dismantled Encrochat – disrupting one of the key communication networks used by the some of the most serious offenders.
The NCA has reported there were 60,000 users worldwide and around 10,000 users in the UK – the sole use was for coordinating and planning the distribution of illicit commodities, money laundering and plotting to kill rival criminals.
As a result of the collaborative work, detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate were able to make arrests and several people have been charged with drugs-related offences.
As part of the Kent operation there were a number of arrests in Dover, Strood, Deal, Eltham and Crawley.
Among the low level arrests were those resulting from a search warrant carried out by the Thanet Community Policing Team at an address in Surrey Road, Cliftonville on April 30.
Five people were arrested after patrols discovered a sawn-off shotgun and a large quantity of heroin. Over £10,000 in cash, 200 deals of cocaine and cannabis were also seized.
William Cairns, 64, Ashley Cairns, 32 and Phillip Gibson, 19, all of Surrey Road along with Jordan Bourton, 20, of Edgar Road, Cliftonville, and a 17-year-old boy from Margate have been charged with two counts of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, one count of being concerned in the supply of class B drugs and possession of criminal property.
Ashley Cairns, Mr Gibson, Mr Bourton and the 17-year-old boy have also been charged with possessing a prohibited firearm. The four men have been remanded in custody and the teenager has been released on bail all awaiting a trial.
Arrests were also made by Met Police as part of the operation resulting in a cash seizure of £13million.
Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Richards said: “This international operation has been the biggest and most significant of its kind in the UK and is a great example of excellent partnership work.
“There will always be a determined, sustained and co-ordinated focus by Kent Police on the activity of any criminal gang, with robust and rigorous enforcement.
“Working with our partners, we are continuing to crack down hard on those trying to sell drugs and who criminally exploit the vulnerable, which can have a devastating impact on our communities.
“We take a zero-tolerance approach to gang-related crime and work continuously with neighbouring forces to target known offenders. If you are planning to commit crime there is a very high chance we already know who you are and our officers will arrest you.”