CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Early-morning raids in blitz on drug gangs

18 held as Operation Atlas police storm homes in search for dealers linked to rise in stabbings

19 October, 2018 — By William McLennan

Police raid a home in Caledonian Road yesterday morning

DOZENS of police officers in riot gear kicked down front doors across the borough in the early hours of yesterday (Thursday) as part of a series of simultaneous raids targeting violent drugs gangs.

The high-profile crackdown was the culmination of a seven-month undercover investigation into the supply of class A drugs and associated violence.

Suspects were detained after teams of more than a dozen officers stormed into properties in Caledonian Road, Tufnell Park and Barnsbury.

Detective Superintendent Caroline Haines said the arrests were the “result of a proactive operation that’s been running for a number of months” involving officers from Islington, alongside the Met’s Violence Reduction Taskforce and the anti-gang unit Trident.

She said that supply of drugs was linked to the rise in stabbings over the past year.

“Drug crime generally tends to fuel violence. Often gang members control the drugs plots, those areas where drug dealing takes place,” she added.

“[Violence] is often against competing dealers or rival gangs. We work to target those gangs and systematically dismantle them so they are not as strong and can’t cause the violence they have been.”

A total of 18 men, aged between 18 and 37, were arrested on Thursday morning at 16 homes across Islington and Camden. Officers recovered cash and drugs at the properties.

It was part of Operation Atlas, aimed at tackling drug gangs who deal at the Camden Lock tourist hotspot.

Det Supt Haines said police were “mindful” of the increasingly well-understood fact that child drug mules were often exploited by older criminals.

“All of our subjects are adult males, so we are satisfied they aren’t the ones that are being exploited,” she said. “However, that’s not to say there aren’t others working with them.

“We are working together with local authorities with a really clear safeguarding strategy, with their youth services and early-intervention services to address any issues with younger siblings who may be being exploited or who are vulnerable.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Iain Raphael, Central North BCU Commander, said: “Today’s operation forms part of our commitment to tackle drug dealing and associated violence in Camden and Islington.

“We will be relentless in the pursuit of this objective in order to keep our communities safe. This should send a clear message to anyone considering committing acts of violence that we will identify you, arrest you and bring you to justice.”

The Violence Reduction Taskforce was established by London Mayor Sadiq Khan in response to rising levels of knife violence across the capital earlier this year.

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