POLICE say they have ‘mitigated’ deaths threats associated with organised crime groups operating in Widnes.

Detective chief inspector Giles Pierce, from Cheshire Police’s serious and organised crime unit, addressed the issue as he spoke about the force’s role in the National Crime Agency’s Operation Venetic.

Yesterday, it was revealed that this international operation has seen hundreds of suspects arrested, and 77 firearms and two tonnes of drugs seized so far.

It is believed that this included three investigations into the supply of cocaine and cannabis in Widnes.

DCI Pierce said: “The activity that has taken place over the past 10 weeks will send shockwaves through the criminal world.

“I have had a dedicated team monitoring and building the intelligence around this tactic to identify those engaged in some of the highest level of serious and organised crime.

“This has led to a number of arrests as well as large amounts of money, drugs and designer items seized.

“We have also mitigated multiple threats made to the lives of those associated with organised crime in Warrington and Widnes.

“We have been one step ahead of this criminality, and we will remain relentless in our pursuit against those involved in serious and organised to make Cheshire a much safer place.”

Cheshire Police have arrested seven men, seized around 5kg of drugs including cocaine and cannabis and recovered £92,000 in cash in Widnes and Chester in connection with Operation Venetic.

Designer clothing worth more than £100,000, jewellery and vehicles totalling another £100,000 were also confiscated by officers.

Police and crime commissioner for Cheshire David Keane added: “I would like to commend the work of the serious and organised crime unit, who have been able to infiltrate encrypted devices used by criminals as part of a huge National Crime Agency operation.

“This sends a stark message to anyone thinking of operating in this type of criminality, that police in Cheshire are working to disrupt this type of activity and make our communities safer.”