Above: Police officers smashing a front door in (left), ensuring suspects can’t escape around the back (right), and bringing in a drugs dog (inset)
Published: 20 April, 2012
by PAVAN AMARA
SUSPECTED gang members were hauled back to Islington police station on public transport after being arrested during raids – because it “is quicker than being stuck in a traffic jam”.
Five members of a Clerkenwell gang – including the so-called “kingpin” – were arrested in a series of dawn raids on Wednesday.
The group, who call themselves “Easy Cash”, are said by police to be responsible for street violence and are suspected of being involved in the stabbing of a man last year.
Their ringleader, who lives with his mother, is believed to control a dozen teenage boys and men in their 20s who supply Class A drugs, and commit street muggings and burglaries.
Nine properties were targeted during the raids, which concluded a four-month operation focusing on gang violence in the borough.
Detective Sergeant Rick Nolan, who led the operation, said it was launched in response to the stabbing of a 23-year-old man on the Spa Green estate in September last year.
Although Islington is in the Met Police list of top 10 boroughs for gang activity, DS Nolan said it had “low-level gang issues compared to others of a similar size”.
He added: “If we can catch these boys and men in the early stages, while they’re young, then it will save a lot of time and money in the future.
“They do supply Class A drugs, and that links to other offences – street muggings, burglary, all kinds of violence. This will massively disrupt their day-to-day operations.”
During a morning briefing DS Nolan split around 40 officers from the Gangs Unit and the Safer Neighbourhood team into six groups, who raided nine properties before searching for of drugs, mobile phones, and clothing.
Two drug dogs were assigned to the teams, and DS Nolan warned officers: “These criminals will be on a heightened state of alert because there’s been a very recent stabbing on the border with Camden. They are in possession of weapons so we will be using stab vests.
“[Officers] must be really tight on phones, making sure the suspects don’t text one another to warn each other. Look out for cheap old phones, because they will be drug phones, and we’ll be able to gain further intelligence from them.”
Officers were told to use public transport after they had arrested suspects, to bring them back to the police station on Albany Road where they would be held in custody.
As well as making arrests, the aim of the operation was to gain further intelligence to prevent planned crimes in the future.
When police broke down the door of a second address – a gang member’s “fencing house”, which hoarded weapons, money, and drugs – they found the suspect and his heavily pregnant girlfriend had fled within minutes.
“The bed was still warm, so they’re close by,” said DS Nolan.
“We will find him sooner or later.”
Trainee Detective Constable Jose Lagares said that at some of the addresses, neighbours may had helped suspects escape.
He added: “It is important to take these suspects seriously because we want to keep the borough safe for everyone, but basically they’re glorified crews of young boys and men.
“This will shine a light on them and what they’re doing.”
A total of five arrests were made, and no charges been brought.