United Kingdom

Armed police smash 'rent-a-gun' gang in dawn raids on 11 addresses across London, Essex and Kent

Armed police who were hunting a 'rent-a-gun' gang who would rent guns to be used in revenge attacks have executed dawn raids on 11 addresses in London, Essex and Kent. 

The warrants were carried out in the early hours of this morning by more than 350 police officers and four firearm recovery dogs.

Operation Wordwell was launched in September after a number of shootings and stabbings in Barking, East London, the Met said.

Pictured: More than 350 police officers were involved in 11 dawn raids executed across London, Essex and Kent this morning as part of  operation targeting a criminal weapons gang

As part of the operation, investigators discovered one criminal gang was planning violent revenge attacks on targeted individuals.

The raids took place at Middleton Grove, Barking, Sutton Road, Barking, Upney Lane, Barking, Wheelers Cross, Barking, Wivenhoe Road, Barking, King Edwards Road, Barking, Dovehouse Mead, Barking, The Shaftsburys, Barking, Bastable Avenue, Barking, William Groom Ave, Dovercourt, Harwich, Essex and Rhodaus Town, Canterbury, Kent

Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers, who led the operation for the Met, said: 'Following a number of violent incidents in east London, officers from the East Area Gangs Unit have meticulously pulled this operation together, which has taken months of hard work and dedication. 

'By linking the offences, officers realised that one criminal gang were planning violent attacks on other individuals and by making these pre-planned arrests today, we have been able to thwart a criminal gang involved in the use of lethal firearms.'

Under Operation Wordwell, officers used proactive and reactive policing tactics to secure evidence of the gang agreeing to split the cost of obtaining a firearm, and were looking for potential victims.

A total of 10 people, aged between 16 and 20 years old have been arrested for offences including conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to commit GBH with intent.

The 11 addresses in London, Essex and Kent where dawn raids were carried out this morning

Specially-trained firearms officers and dogs were deployed to execute search at 11 properties

Police officers arrested a total of 10 people aged between 16 and 20 who all remain in custody

They have been taken into custody at an east London police station while searches of the venues continue for any weapons. 

Specialist firearms officers from the Metropolitan Police, as well as Essex and Kent Police were used to carry out the warrants safely.

They were supported by officers from the Met's Taskforce, Specialist Crime syndicates and East Area BCU.

Members of the local Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs) were also present at a specialist operations room to view the searches taking place and to see what officers are doing to tackle violent crime in their neighbourhoods.

Det Supt Trevers adds: 'Communities rightfully hold their local Police to account.

'They understandably want to know, understand and see what we are doing to tackle shootings, stabbings and other types of crime in the areas that they live and work.

Both the Met Police and Essex Police, who were involved in the dawn raids, say the raids this morning are part of a continued effort to tackle violent crime in their respective communities 

'By inviting community representatives to see the operation unfold, it allowed me to show our professional commitment to supress violence, whilst assuring communities of our accountability and transparency in what we do.

'This is another in the line of ongoing operations targeting violent offenders and I hope it goes some way in reassuring everyone that East Area BCU, with the support of MPS specialist officers as well as colleagues from other forces, continue to work tirelessly to stop the supply of guns, and associated criminality across London and into County Forces.'

Chief Inspector Darren Deex, Operational Policing Command, Essex Police, said: 'In working with the Metropolitan Police today, not only have we supported colleagues to make an arrest, we have helped make Essex that little bit safer.

'Our residents know that we will always take action to remove firearms and weapons off our streets and bring those who carry or use them to justice, and we take pride in knowing the community supports us in that aim. There is no place for such violence in our county.' 

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Tweet @MetCC. To remain 100 per cent anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Any young people who have information about violence, firearms or knife crime, can visit Fearless where they can pass on information anonymously – your I.P address will not be traced.

Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity, and is also independent of the police.

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