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Suspected gang members arrested in morning raids

RAIDS: An image of cannabis recovered in dawn raids this morning

EIGHT SUSPECTED gang members were arrested this morning in a series of dawn raids in the capital.

Crack cocaine, a cannabis factory and an air pistol were just some of the items seized as officers in Westminster and Brent.

Those targeted in today's operation are believed to be priority gang members who are suspected of involvement in a series of crimes, including assault, robbery, drug supply and looting during the riots last August.

All warrants were served at residential homes, with five arrests in Brent and three in Westminster. Those arrested were aged between 16-24 and were taken to north and central London police stations where they remain in police custody. Offences range from assault to possession with intent to supply drugs.

During one of the warrant searches in Westminster, officers recovered a Blackberry mobile phone, which was stolen in a knifepoint robbery the previous day.

Two suspects matching the victim's description have since been arrested for that offence as a direct result of action today.

Up to 120 police officers took part in today's operation, led by the newly formed Trident Gang Crime Command, which was launched on February 8 to tackle gangs and gang members across London.

The arrests follow another successful operation yesterday, which saw officers detain six people from rival gangs following a violent fight on a bus in Brent.

Detective Chief Inspector Tim Champion, from the Trident Gang Crime Command, said: "By successfully removing the negative role models and their gang associates within the local community we are hoping to prevent young people from joining gangs in the first place.

"There is nothing cool about being in prison it is not a positive experience. There is nothing trendy about having a criminal record. It only makes it harder to get a job or into further education. There is nothing untouchable about being involved in violence and crime. It can lead to getting arrested, sent to prison, seriously injured or even killed.

"We cannot of course tackle gang violence alone. We are working with partners and agencies to offer ways out of gangs and divert young people away from what can become a very destructive path."

If you have any information about gang crime or those involved call Crimestoppers - an independent charity - anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always dial 999.

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