A total of 57 arrests have been made, along with seizures of large quantities of drugs and weapons, under Operation Dietbank, which concluded last week following earlier arrests in March.
The two arrest phases, which saw drugs warrants executed at addresses across the city, were the culmination of a year-long investigation led by specialist detectives from Leeds District Programme Precision Team, supported by officers from the Yorkshire & Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, knife crime initiative Operation Jemlock, Protective Services (Operations) and district officers from across West Yorkshire.
Last week’s activity saw the recovery of five kilograms of heroin, with an estimated street value of £500,000, and the seizure of £10,000 cash along with machetes, swords and combat knives.
The arrest phase in March saw £17,000 of Class A drugs recovered as well as £10,000 cash and multiple machetes, swords and combat knives.
The operation was launched to target rival street gangs involved in the supply of Class A drugs that has fuelled an increase in violent crime, particularly attacks involving machetes and other large bladed weapons.
Many of those incidents have seen very serious wounds caused to teenage males aged as young as fourteen and fifteen.
The majority of those arrested during the operation have already been charged with offences, predominantly related to the supply of Class A drugs.
Officers have also been working closely with the city’s community safety partnership Safer Leeds and other Leeds City Council resources to put longer-term measures in place, while engaging with young people around gang and knife crime, both in schools and through youth services.
This latest investigation builds on a similar proactive operation that concluded in June last year which saw 22 arrests as part of efforts to target a group linked to 70 knife attacks over the preceding 12 months.
Leeds District Commander, Chief Superintendent Damien Miller said: “The images we have decided to show have been deliberately obscured but they still give a very stark illustration of the type of horrific injuries that have been caused to young teenage boys in these incidents.
“Serious violence such as this causes understandable concern in our communities and could very easily have fatal consequences.
“It is intrinsically linked to rival street gangs involved in the organised supply of Class A drugs, and we are determined to keep doing everything we can to target those involved.
“The large-scale arrests and charges that have resulted from Operation Dietbank are a very significant step forward in our ongoing work to tackle the issue, and we will be continuing to take a robust and proactive approach.
“Our neighbourhood policing teams continue to play a key role in supporting and reassuring our communities, and partnership work with our colleagues in the local authority remains a vital element, particularly in preventative efforts to educate young people about the inherent dangers and risks of involving themselves in this type of crime.”
Coun James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We will never tolerate illegal activity in our communities as we understand the devastating impact it can have on people and the wider community. We will continue to use every power at our disposal to target these dangerous criminals and take them off our streets.
“We hope that the work carried out under Operation Dietbank, alongside our partners at West Yorkshire Police, sends out a clear message to anyone involved in gang and drug related crime and also to our residents, that we remain firmly committed to making Leeds a safe place for everyone.”