Almost 70 arrests as part of a major police crackdown on violent drug gangs

Almost 70 arrests have taken place in a week-long string of early morning raids as part of a major police crackdown on armed and violent drug gangs.

Operation Puglia saw a total of 2,275 officers swoop down on suspected heroin and crack cocaine dealers before sunrise.

The dangerous gang members and their accomplices were linked to more than 860 crimes of violence, weapon offences and use of firearms.

The intelligence-led police operation was six months in the making and involved officers from the Met and the City of London police who targeted ‘men of violence’ and their accomplices across West London, the youngest just 15.

Operation Puglia responded to local community concerns of the suspects already known to police as regular knife carriers who exploited the vulnerable.

From a total of 70 search warrants issued, 67 men were arrested across Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster boroughs in west London

Officers benefitted from an element of surprise when they raided 11 addresses in West London this morning (July 19) arresting eight men aged 19 to 66 who remain in custody.

A teenager was seen jumping from a third-storey window in a dramatic attempt to escape police after officers burst through the front door of his mum’s home in Chelsea.

So far 46 men have been charged with 210 drug supply and related offences, three suspects have been released and one cautioned.

Of the 18 teenagers arrested, 17 have been charged.

Police also noted the teenagers concerned came to their attention as missing persons or of concern more than 470 times in the last year.

All teenagers were taken to the Met’s first safeguarding custody facility where they will be managed by social services, local authorities partners and third sector organisations with aims to steer them away from future crime.

DS Raffaele D’Orsi led the investigation and said: “Operation Puglia continues to be a large, major and complex enquiry that is removing violent and dangerous individuals and groups from the communities that they are abusing.

“This is one of the largest investigations and numbers of arrests that the MPS has ever undertaken.

“I am enormously proud of the personal resilience and tenacious investigative expertise that my colleagues from Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Trident and the Territorial Support Group, as well as the City of London Police, have committed to this complex enquiry.

“The work of all of my colleagues during Operation Puglia will ensure that those arrested will face justice.

“We have already seen that the overwhelming evidence secured by the investigation team has led to numerous Operation Puglia subjects pleading guilty at court.

“The message to those predisposed to carry weapons, or be involved in violent crime or drug dealing in London is simple: the Met and our partners are here to help you out of this way of life, but if you choose not to take this help, we know where you live and we will come and arrest you to protect our communities from you.”


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