The arrests, which took place in the early hours of 24 February, 1 March and 3 March, were for offences including conspiracy to supply class A drugs such as cocaine and MDMA.
They marked the culmination of two long term and large scale investigations into organised drug dealing and county lines.
During the raids, 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, including county lines, and are integral to the running of several lines that operate around East London and into Essex and Sussex.
They are believed to be of varying levels of responsibility. Some are in overall control, some are responsible for sourcing vehicles and properties used in the supply of class A drugs and some are at the lower end, dealing the drugs on our streets.
Some of those arrested have also been linked to violent incidents over the past few years including firearm discharges and stabbings.
The investigations, one led by local officers and the other by the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, 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 which is testing an intense whole-system approach to tackling drug misuse and drug-related crime.
This action was supported in tandem with work from the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, Drugs Treatment Services and Local Authority in the areas most impacted by drug-related criminality. It emphasises that enforcement is not just a policing activity, but one shared across the partnership to make the community a safer place.
Detective Chief Inspector 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.
“Last year – compared to the same period prior to the pandemic in 2019 – we saw knife crime down by 32 per cent with 4,914 fewer offences; gun crime down by 35 per cent with 741 fewer offences and robbery down 44 per cent with 16,170 fewer victims.
“We will continue to work with communities and partners, balancing the need for diversion and support with enforcement.
“I would like to thank DS Sam Livesey and PC Shaun Brown who led the investigation.”
Detective Inspector Tom Pearse of the Specialist Crime Command, who led the county lines investigation, said: “These arrests follow a meticulous investigation into an organised criminal network responsible for the sale of Class A and B drugs across London and into the home counties. The network came to the attention of officers following a series of firearm discharges in 2020, demonstrating the extremes the group went to in order to defend and expand their ‘territory’.
“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.
“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.
“I would like to thank Detective Sergeant Danny Cooper and Detective Constable Megan Bushell whose tenacity and commitment were crucial to this investigation”
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.”