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Ten suspected members of ‘rent a gun gang’ arrested in huge Metropolitan Police raid

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 03/03/2021 Martin Bentham

Ten suspected members of a “rent a gun gang” providing weapons for revenge attacks were arrested today in a huge Metropolitan Police operation.

More than 350 officers from the Met, Essex and Kent police detained the suspects, aged between 16 and 20, after raiding 11 addresses in the early hours of today.

Nine of the properties searched were in Barking. The others were in Canterbury and Harwich.

Scotland Yard said the raids – which came only hours after a senior Met officer had announced that more than 260 weapons have been seized from the capital’s streets over the past year – were aimed at criminals suspected of “renting” a firearm to be used in a revenge gang attacks.

Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers, who led the operation, said that preparations had begun in September last year after police investigations found links between “a number of shootings and stabbings in Barking.”

He added: “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.”

Four firearms recovery dogs were also used to assist during today’s arrests and searches were continuing to locate possible hidden weapons.

The suspects held have been arrested for offences including conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to commit GBH with intent. They are being held at an east London police station.

Community representatives of local “independent advisory groups” were invited to watch the searches taking place from a specialist operations room to see what officers are doing to tackle violent crime in their neighbourhoods.

Det Supt Trevers said: “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.”

He added that his officers would continue to work “tirelessly to stop the supply of guns and associated criminality across London” and surrounding counties.

Today’s raids follow the disclosure by Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave on Tuesday that more than 260 guns have been “seized on and off the street in the last 12 months” in London.

He said that most had been smuggled in from abroad, mainly from Europe. His comments came following the seizure of two Scorpion machine guns and 40 rounds of ammunition from a 19-year-old suspect near Chiswick Park tube station.

The officer in charge of that operation, Detective Chief Superintendent Craig Turner, said the weapons and ammunition seized “could undoubtedly have led to the loss of life had they not been seized.”

He added: “Anyone who believes they can walk the streets of London with horrific weapons in their possession should think again. We will continue to make London a hostile place for gangs to operate in and carry firearms.”

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