Dawn raids break up drug gang network in Hackney and Tower Hamlets

Cash seized during dawn raids in Hackney and Tower Hamlets

Cash seized during dawn raids in Hackney and Tower Hamlets - Credit: Met Police

More than 40 men have been arrested in dawn raids tackling drug gangs across Hackney and Tower Hamlets. 

The 42 arrests, which took place in the early hours of February 24, March 1 and 3  were for offences including conspiracy to supply class A drugs such as cocaine and MDMA.

The raids marked the end of two long term and large scale investigations into organised drug dealing and county lines. 

Officers seized 1kg of class A drugs believed to be crack cocaine and heroin, 'party bags' containing drugs believed to be MDMA and cocaine, £210,000 in cash and 10 watches each valued at more than £10,000.

All of those arrested are believed to play a role in drug dealing networks operating around East London and into Essex and Sussex. 

The network is believed to have been making more than £3 million a year.

Scotland Yard said the arrests were for varying levels of responsibility from those with overall control, down to suppliers and dealers.

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Some of those arrested have also been linked to violent incidents over the past few years including firearm discharges and stabbings, they added.

More than  40 men arrested during dawn raids in Hackney and Tower Hamlets

More than 40 men arrested during dawn raids in Hackney and Tower Hamlets - Credit: Met

The investigations form part of Operation Continuum, an intelligence-led, phased operation established in response to ongoing reports of drug dealing, drug use and associated criminality in the area.

The project is funded by Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery), a joint Home Office, Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England programme and supported by safer neighbourhood  teams, drugs treatment services and local authorities in the areas most impacted by drug-related criminality. 

Det Chf Insp Sean Lyons said: “These organised crime groups are strongly linked to violence and are a significant driver to drugs-related violence that we see cause devastation in our communities.

“We are working with our partners to support displaced drug users and provide the assistance and treatment they need. Working closely with local authorities means we are tackling violence from all angles and making our communities safer.

“Our relentless activity is having an impact. Violent crime is down with data showing reductions across serious violent crime categories."

He said last year - compared to the same period before the pandemic in 2019 - knife crime was down by 32% with 4,914 fewer offences; gun crime down by 35% with 741 fewer offences and robbery down 44% with 16,170 fewer victims.

“We will continue to work with communities and partners, balancing the need for diversion and support with enforcement," he added.

Det Insp Tom Pearse of the the Met's specialist crime command, who led the county lines investigation, said the arrests followed "a meticulous investigation" into an organised criminal network which came to the attention of police following a series of gun shots in 2020.

“Working in collaboration with other police forces we have removed the network in its entirety, from importation down to street level dealers - A network believed to have been making in excess of £3 million a year," he said.

“Ultimately it was their propensity for violence that saw the downfall of this network, with a zero tolerance approach to violence from both the Met and across our communities.

John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “These raids are just the latest success of Operation Continuum, our ongoing partnership work with local police to tackle the drugs market in Tower Hamlets.

“We’re also supporting the victims of drug dealers by offering high quality drug treatment services.

"Following the raids, we had teams on the ground offering reassurance and supporting people to access addiction services, which will improve people’s health and help to prevent crime associated with drug taking.   

“I remain committed to working with the police to target people intent on breaking the law, and making Tower Hamlets a safer borough for everyone.”