Operation Soteria, which has been carried out over the last nine months, has resulted in more than 200 arrests.
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Police have carried out a major operation in London targeting drug-dealing criminal gangs who they say are responsible for fuelling an upsurge in violent crime.
Officers raided 21 properties across south London in an operation aimed at disrupting “high harm” individuals and others involved in dealing class A drugs like cocaine and heroin.
The raids are the end stage of a nine-month drive which has resulted in more than 200 arrests.
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Sky News was given exclusive access to the raids and accompanied two teams of Territorial Support Group officers as they raided three homes in the south Lambeth area.
Just before 5am, dozens of police vehicles made their way in convoy through largely deserted streets to multiple locations.
Parked up in residential neighbourhoods, the teams, in full body armour, made the final part of their journey on foot so as not to alert their targets before smashing their way into the properties.
Near simultaneous raids took place at the other addresses in the area.
At one property, police recovered 300 wraps of crack cocaine.
They also found more than £8,000 in cash at the address.
The officer in charge of the operation, Detective Superintendent Helen Lyons, said the raids were designed to take violent drug dealers off the streets and send a strong warning to those involved in this type of criminality.
“This has been a nine-month long drive, Operation Soteria, which is a bigger-picture initiative to dismantle those gangs who are linked to drug offences and violence which is played out in our communities.
“It’s been really successful to date – more than 200 arrests.
“Today we are adding more criminal gang suspects to that tally.”
Superintendent Lyons said much of the success of the operation was down to the Met’s partnership approach, working with the local community and keeping them informed about the progress of the operation.
“From organised crime groups in Lambeth and Southwark to individual street sellers on our streets, they all have one commonality – that is drugs.
“Some days their relationships are fluid, they are friends. The next day they are arch enemies.
“And subsequently, their violence is played out on our streets. More importantly for our communities, it’s the fear of that violence.
“I totally understand why people are too frightened to call the police.
“However what I would say is that today is an answer to their concerns – and I would encourage them to call us, or call Crimestoppers, pass on their knowledge of individuals because that’s often how we get the intelligence we need to mount these operations.”
The operation has been funded by extra money from the London mayor’s office as part of the response to the growing list of victims of violent crime in London.
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Already this week, a young man was stabbed to death during a fight in Ealing, west London, on Tuesday.
In another knife killing on the same day, Tashan Daniel, 20, was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack at Hillingdon Tube station in west London.
With the latest police operation targeting drug-dealing gang members, police say they are removing more violent offenders from the streets.
But for every suspect they take off the streets, there are plenty of others waiting to fill their shoes.