Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci among assets seized in sweeping organized crime investigation

Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci products were seized during police raids on 28 properties.

More than £400,000 in suspicious cash, 41 luxury watches, two cars and works of art were also taken by police in the operation to crack down on organized crime witnessed by KentOnline.

Kent Police raid homes as part of crackdown on organized crime

A house on an estate just off Cuxton Road, Strood, was one of the houses, with its front door smashed in.

Pickup trucks, cars and undercover police had gathered around 5 a.m. at Strood’s Hollywood Bowl awaiting final instructions to move forward.

Officers raced inside the property with sniffer dogs brought in to search.

A short time later, an arrested man was brought out in handcuffs. He is currently detained.

The raid was part of a wider investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Branch which carried out 28 warrants in the south east, targeting 17 people linked to organized crime.

Fourteen terms took place in Rochester, Chatham, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Longfield, Wrotham, Ashford, Gravesend, Strood, West Kingsdown, Whitstable and Platt.

While seven took place in Sussex, three in London, two in Essex and two in Suffolk.

A house in Strood was among those raided
The door was kicked in during a raid in Kent
The door was kicked in during a raid in Kent
Police gathered early this morning awaiting final instructions
Police gathered early this morning awaiting final instructions

As of breakfast time, each of the 17 people targeted were in police custody where they remain as investigations continue.

Nine men were arrested on suspicion of various drug supply offences, including a conspiracy to supply large quantities of cocaine. They are between 28 and 50 years old.

Seven other men and one woman, aged 29 to 53, were also arrested on suspicion of various fraud offenses including money laundering, conspiracy to cheat government revenue and concealment of criminal assets.

Police, in a joint operation with HMRC, were targeting people suspected of being involved in complex fraud or supplying huge quantities of cocaine.

The alleged financial wrongdoings include money laundering, tax evasion and the false claim of Covid-19 rebound loans.

Over £400,000 in cash was seized along with 41 luxury watches including the TAG Heuer, Cartier and Breitling brands, two cars and a huge amount of designer items and artwork.

Officers searched 14 warrants across the county.  Photo: Kent Police
Officers searched 14 warrants across the county. Photo: Kent Police
A huge amount of designer goods was seized.  Photo: Kent Police
A huge amount of designer goods was seized. Photo: Kent Police
A huge amount of designer goods was seized.  Photo: Kent Police
A huge amount of designer goods was seized. Photo: Kent Police

Several Gucci bags, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada and Balenciaga products were also among the items seized.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Pritchard said: ‘Today’s operation was really a build-up of two years of really excellent detective work working with partners such as HMRC and the Crown Prosecution Service to really unpack this which is a really big fraud defrauding the stock market public using construction, industry, using covid rebound loans to create loads of fronts that actually created a huge amount of wealth.

“Including the supply and distribution of Class A drugs, so it’s an organized crime group that we’re really confident today we’ve taken down from the bottom up always.

“These people operated in a very complex sophisticated method trying to hide from the eyes of HMRC and even Kent Police on this occasion.

A huge amount of designer goods was seized.  Photo: Kent Police
A huge amount of designer goods was seized. Photo: Kent Police
Luxury watches were also seized.  Photo: Kent Police
Luxury watches were also seized. Photo: Kent Police

“What they did amassed a tremendous amount of wealth for them who lived the enjoyment of that wealth in the way they live their lives, but the reality was in the background that you can’t hide.

“We can chase the money we can follow up on those leads and we’ve been able to pinpoint exactly what happened by working very closely to unpack the whole network and what we think we did.

“He really broke down this major crime.”

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