Police swoop on drug crime gang
9:43am Thursday 30th January 2014 in © Press Association 2014
A notorious gang involved in serious violence including a shooting that paralysed a five-year-old girl has been targeted in a series of police raids across the UK.
Classed as one of the most high-harm criminal networks in London, the Guns and Shanks gang runs a drug-dealing network that stretches as far as Scotland, and members have been linked to a string of violent crimes.
These include the shooting of Thusha Kamaleswaran, the little girl who was catastrophically injured as she played in her uncle's shop in Stockwell, south London in 2011.
Police carried out a series of early morning swoops today, including 12 warrants executed in London and another 11 further afield.
These included seven in the Thames Valley, one in Essex, one in Bedfordshire and two in Edinburgh.
Detective Chief Inspector Tim Champion said 29 arrests had been made in the past 24 hours.
The raids were the latest phase of a police crackdown on the so-called GAS gang - which is based in Lambeth, south London - that has seen a total of 88 arrests.
Mr Champion said: "It's a London-based gang but they're extending their drugs network and finding new markets to ensure they get more money.
"They've got their tentacles into Home Counties and further afield because they want to expand the amount of profit they can get.
"The reason we target them is that we still get the associated violence in London when they return."
The GAS gang has been involved in attempted murders, gun crime and robbery.
Mr Champion said: "We're suppressing violence by targeting them for their drug dealing. We have prioritised them based on violence."
Gang members sometimes extend their network out of the capital through links with family or friends.
They will be targeted by police for any potential offences, such as having no insurance on their car, in a bid to disrupt their criminal activities.
Nine of the London raids took place in Lambeth, one in Southwark, one in Hackney and another in Brent.
Scotland Yard said the operation targeted what are believed to be "the most senior ranking high harm members" of the gang.
So far they have found around 300 rocks of crack cocaine, a large amount of heroin and £5,000 in cash.
The 29 people arrested are aged 18 to 47, and are being held on suspicion of crimes including conspiracy to supply class A drugs, money laundering, possession with intent to supply, fraud and immigration offences.
Police would not officially name the gang involved, but Commander Steve Rodhouse described them as "very territorial".
He said they had been involved in: "Knife crime in enforcing turf with violence. Guns both to shoot people to hurt them and to scare and threaten people."
He went on: "We're recognising more often now that some of the aggravated burglaries we get are gang members who enter premises to burgle or to enforce a debt, that is an increasing trend for us.
"They protect their territory, which is in part pride and status, and it's partly around drug dealing territory."