A 16-year-old is among 10 suspected gang members who have been arrested over being involved in “renting” firearms for use in revenge attacks in London.
On Wednesday morning, more than 350 officers executed 11 firearms warrants to arrest a number of suspects as part of a “rent-a-gun” operation, the Metropolitan Police said.
Officers began “Operation Wordwell” in September 2020 following a number of shootings and stabbings in Barking, east London.
The latest arrests came after the Met identified a criminal gang was planning violent attacks on other individuals using “lethal firearms”.
Ten people, aged between 16 and 20, have been arrested for offences including conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to commit GBH with intent.
They have all been taken into custody at an east London police station.
A number of properties in Barking were searched, along with one in Canterbury, Kent and another in Harwich, Essex.
Four firearms recovery dogs also supported the operation.
Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers, who led the operation for the Met, said: "Following a number of violent incidents in east London, officers from the East Area Gangs Unit have meticulously pulled this operation together, which has taken months of hard work and dedication.
"This operation - Operation Wordwell - started in September 2020 following a number of shootings and stabbings in Barking, East London. By linking the offences, 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."
Under Operation Wordwell, officers used proactive and reactive policing tactics to secure evidence of the gang agreeing to split the cost of obtaining a firearm, and were looking for potential victims.
A total of 10 people, aged between 16 and 20 years old have been arrested, as part of Operation Wordwell, for offences including conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to commit GBH with intent.
Specialist firearms officers from the Metropolitan Police, as well as Essex and Kent Police were used to carry out the warrants safely. They were supported by officers from the Met's Taskforce, Specialist Crime syndicates and East Area BCU.
Chief Inspector Darren Deex, Operational Policing Command, Essex Police, said: “In working with the Metropolitan Police today, not only have we supported colleagues to make an arrest, we have helped make Essex that little bit safer.
“Our residents know that we will always take action to remove firearms and weapons off our streets and bring those who carry or use them to justice, and we take pride in knowing the community supports us in that aim. There is no place for such violence in our county.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Tweet @MetCC. To remain 100% anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
+ Any young people who have information about violence, firearms or knife crime, can visit Fearless where they can pass on information anonymously – your I.P address will not be traced. Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity, and is also independent of the police.