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East End drugs gangs targeted in massive dawn raids

PUBLISHED: 16:20 12 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:21 05 October 2010

One of the dozen East End addresses raided in the biggest drugs bust for a decade

One of the dozen East End addresses raided in the biggest drugs bust for a decade

TWO of East London’s biggest crack cocaine and heroin rings known as The Don’ and The Box’ have been smashed in the largest police raid in the East End for a decade. Around 150 cops stormed more than a dozen homes in Whitechapel, Shadwell and Wapping in simultaneous raids yesterday, when 13 men and a woman were arrested. The operation also yielded drug-making equipment

By Ted Jeory

TWO of East London's biggest crack cocaine and heroin rings known as 'The Don' and 'The Box' have been smashed in the largest police raid in the East End for a decade.

Around 150 cops stormed more than a dozen homes in Whitechapel, Shadwell and Wapping in simultaneous raids on Wednesday morning (June 11).

Thirteen men and one woman, all believed to be in their 20s, were arrested in the operation, which also yielded a huge bag of cash and drug making equipment.

Addresses targeted included homes in Welland Mews, Wapping, Mellwood House in Watney Market, and Bigland Street in Shadwell.

The dawn raids were the culmination of 'Operation Argus,' a month-long investigation into the gangs.

Precisely at 6.40am yesterday, the order to "go" was given.

Fourteen families were woken by taser-armed officers battering down their doors, yelling 'police' and crashing into their homes.

At Melland Mews, an Advertiser reporter watched an unwitting family member press his terrified face against a bedroom window as police piled in.

But although the 'suspect' had been spotted returning to his three-storey house on Tuesday night, he had disappeared by the time the raid took place.

Elsewhere, police notched up successes, however, including a bag of cash at a flat overlooking Watney Market.

Earlier, officers were told during the 5am briefing at the Territorial Army centre in Mile End, they would be making a "significant impact" on the East End's drug dealing cartels.

Months of surveillance had shown that three gangs using three specific mobile phone numbers were heavily involved in pedalling class A drugs.

The two biggest networks styled themselves 'The Don' and 'The Box' and numbered at least 13 members, including one woman.

Officers were ordered to be on the lookout for any documents relating to the string of hire cars used by the gangs.

They were also warned to be sensitive to the families at the addresses because parents might have no idea of their children's activities.

Acting Chief Ins Steve Manger said: "We warn them so they can explain to people in the community afterwards what we were doing and why."

Acting Tower Hamlets Borough Commander Steve Bending told his officers: "What you are doing has the full support of the community."

ted.jeory@archant.co.uk


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