More than 20 people were arrested in dawn raids in east London today in a landmark operation tackling Hackney-based gangs involved in drug dealing and armed crime.
Many of the raids took place on the crumbling Pembury estate in Dalston, in Hackney, home of the notorious ‘Pembury Boys’ said to be one of the most violent street gangs in London. Other addresses were raided in Shoreditch, Enfield and Waltham Forest.
A total of more than 300 officers executed search warrants at 32 addresses in raids which were aimed at targeting middle and upper level drug dealers and criminals. Specialist police used hydraulic rams to break down doors.
The addresses had been under covert surveillance by detectives in an 18-month long operation codenamed Chalais. It was carried out jointly with Hackney council, whose CCTV used were used during the surveillance, said to have been one of the longest covert operations ever carried out by the Met. The Evening Standard reported that ‘’the full might’’ of covert policing had been used against the gang members and that some of those arrested were senior gang members.
Officers seized a large quantity of crack cocaine, a kilo of heroin, 45 mobile phones, 60 SIM cards, about £8,000 in cash and one imitation firearm. The 21 men and two women arrested were being interviewed in relation to a variety of drugs and firearms offences, including conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Operation Chalais was described by the Met as part of a ‘three-pronged strategy’ to tackle street gangs in the area which also involved Hackney’s Integrated Gangs Intervention Project – itself a partnership between police, the council and the London Probation Trust – and the Met’s Operation Trident unit, which tackles black on black crime.
A spokesman said: ‘’Although the operation focused on dismantling middle and higher tier gang members who have long criminal histories in one particular area of Hackney, it is hoped that the effects of this morning’s raids will be long-lasting, and will lead to significant, long-term reductions in offences relating to gang-related violence, firearms and drugs across the entire borough.’’
Chief Superintendent Steve Bending, the borough commander for Hackney, added: “Today’s arrests, which are the culmination of 18 months’ work, will play an important part in further reducing gang-related crime in Hackney.”
Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney said: “Although crime in Hackney is at its lowest level for 12 years, we know that our residents remain concerned by the small minority of individuals who involve themselves in serious, violent and gang-related crime. Our significant financial investment in this operation, coupled with our ongoing, long-term support, demonstrates how serious we are about tackling organised crime and gangs in Hackney.”