NINETY-THREE people have been arrested and £3.6million in criminal cash, 78kg of drugs, 10 firearms and 220 rounds of ammunition seized following a large-scale operation targeting criminals across the North West.

Lancashire Constabulary have confirmed their involvement in Operation Venetic, which was set up two months ago following years of international intelligence sharing.

The operation came about when police forces in France and Holland took down a bespoke encrypted global communication service used exclusively by criminals to carry out their business.

With more than 60,000 users overseas and 10,000 in the UK, EncroChat was a secure mobile phone instant messaging service used by criminals to co-ordinate and plan the distribution of illicit commodities, money laundering and plots to kill rival criminals.

Detective Chief Inspector Becky Smith, from Lancashire Police, said: “We continue to work with our partners in our fight against the criminals who exploit the most vulnerable in our communities.

“I hope this activity sends a clear message to the public of our determination to rid communities of this sort of criminalisation."