[from This is London]
Thousand police raid drug gangs
Rob Singh, Evening Standard
Police today smashed gangs dealing in class A drugs and stolen goods in a series of “unprecedented” swoops.
In one of the Met’s biggest operations, more than 1,100 officers stormed 40 addresses and 19 firms in Islington.
Investigations focused on a network involved in heroin, cocaine, stolen goods and fraud. In one raid, police stormed Blackstock Road, hitting 19 businesses from butchers to internet cafés and fast food outlets.
A stretch of the north London road was barricaded as more than 40 vans ferried in officers in riot gear. Police hope to pick up at least 70 suspects.
Hours earlier, 40 warrants were executed in dawn swoops in north and north-west London. Other addresses in Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire and Leeds were also targeted.
Officers from the Met, the British Transport Police and Immigration Services were involved in the operation. They recovered forged documents, including passports and licences. They also found stolen goods including laptops, cameras, iPods and sat-nav systems.
Blackstock Road has long been on their radar say police sources. In the morning raids, 35 people were arrested. Commander of Islington Police Bob Carr said: “The area that we have focused on has always been in our sights.” He said that more operations will be ongoing, adding that because of the “relatively” sophisticated nature of the network “we had to do it at one time and all in one hit”.
He added: “It’s something that needed to be done for a long time.”
He explained the numbers of officers were needed to storm Blackstock Road because of the scores of businesses they were targeting and the possible threat of violence.
He said that police will be out in force working with and reassuring the community.
He added: “This sends out the very strong message criminals can’t operate with impunity.”