Cash and drugs seized and 23 arrested after dawn raids in High Path, south Wimbledon
Large amounts of cash, heroin and crack cocaine have been seized and 23 people arrested after a series of dawn raids targeting drug dealers in Merton.
Operation Burney saw around 350 armed police officers raid 30 residential properties in the early hours of this morning predominantly in Mitcham but also in Croydon, Lambeth, Wandsworth and Lewisham.
All annual leave was cancelled in preparation for the operation by the Metropolitan Police and the London Crime Squad (LCS).
It involved the Met's Territorial Support Group, dog unit, Trident's central gangs unit, Serious, organised and economic crime command's financial investigation unit and Safer Neighbourhoods teams.
Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Williams, Merton’s borough commander, said: "Armed officers have carried out a series of raids as part of a joint operation to target drug dealing on the High Path estate in Merton.
"At the moment 23 are in custody and we have seized a number of things including large amount of cash, drugs and stolen property."
Raid on a flat in the High Path Estate, south Wimbledon
He added: "Some of those searches are still going on now. The number of arrests is likely to increase."
Those people have been arrested for offences ranging from fraud, conspiracy to supply class A drugs, namely heroin and crack cocaine, and motor vehicle offences."
Concerns about drug dealing on the estate were raised at a ‘face the people’ event earlier this month run by the council in which the Borough Commander was asked what was being done to tackle the problem.
What Det Chief Supt Williams was unable to reveal was that an operation was already underway to carry out a series of raids which this morning resulted in 23 arrests targeting drug dealers coming into the estate to sell heroin and crack cocaine.
The operation was made possible by information received by the police from members of the public.
The raids come after complaints about drug crime from residents
Mr Williams said: "For quite some time the public have been telling us about the concerns around drug crime in and around the High Path estate.
"We listened to these concerns and have been working out what was the most effective way of dealing with it."
Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Laurence, who leads the LCS, said: "Those targeted in today's coordinated operations are believed to be 'high harm' individuals and known gang members who are suspected of involvement in a series of crimes including supply of class A drugs and violence.
"Today's operation demonstrates how the London Crime Squad will work across boundaries in order to arrest criminals who cause harm in their communities, through drug dealing and gang-related criminal activity.
"The raids and subsequent arrests are the culmination of three months intensive work, which will result in a significant reduction of serious youth violence, gun and knife crime."
Merton police officers, in partnership with Merton Council, have today been carrying estate sweeps, mounted patrols, youth engagement activities and property marking on the estate.
Councillor Stephen Alambritis, leader of Merton Council said: "Merton is one of the safest boroughs in London and we are proud of our long established partnership with the police.
“Today's event is a good example of the excellent work the police carry out in protecting our community and reinforces the success of our partnership in making Merton a safe place to live."
All those arrested have been taken to a central London police station where they remain in police custody.
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