Police target city crime syndicates

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The Independent Online
FIFTY-THREE suspected criminals were arrested yesterday during a massive police operation aimed at cleaning up a notorious inner-city area reputed to be "untouchable".

The move follows a 12-month undercover operation, codenamed Victory, aimed at combating drug-dealing, burglary, and theft in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Officers yesterday raided 45 properties in Salford, 11 in other areas of Greater Manchester, and four in Cheshire, Merseyside, and Lancashire. A total of 43 men and 10 women were arrested, and officers recovering drugs worth pounds 250,000 and stolen property worth the same amount. A sawn- off shotgun, two pistols and an imitation gun were also seized.

Undercover officers had bought stolen goods and drugs from suspects in order to compile evidence and draw up lists of targets. The police targeted prolific burglars, car thieves, handlers of stolen goods, and drug dealers.

Detective Superintendent David Brown, head of Operation Victory, said: "There's a perception that there are certain criminals in the Salford area that may be considered untouchable. We wanted to show that no one is above the law."

There are said to be about five significant crime "families" or gangs operating from Salford. The criminals concentrate on running protection rackets, drug-dealing, robberies from security vans and the sale of guns.

Det Supt Brown added that he was confident he had arrested some of the district's most prolific criminals.

The 53 people in custody were being held at 10 police stations around the Greater Manchester area.

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