London gang cops raid gangs
London - A new specialist police unit tackling London gangs carried out hundreds of raids on Wednesday, exactly six months on from the riots that hit the capital, arresting nearly 160 people.
The 158 suspected members were picked up as hundreds of Metropolitan Police officers mounted more than 300 raids across the city, starting at dawn.
Those detained are accused of assault, robbery, the supply of drugs and money laundering, police said, and "significant amounts of crack cocaine, heroin and cash" were also seized.
The arrests came as Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said the launch of the new unit was a "step change" in tackling gang crime in London.
The 1 000-strong Trident Gang Crime Command has been created to monitor gang activity and work with local authorities in London.
The unit, thought to be the largest in the country, has 19 dedicated gang crime task forces.
The Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement: "As part of the MPS crackdown on gang crime, 144 warrants have been executed so far across London, resulting in 158 arrests for a variety of offences including possession of a firearm, the supply and possession of drugs, money laundering and gang-related violence.
"A significant amount of cocaine and cannabis has been seized at various addresses across the capital."
Relentlessly pursue gangs
Two people were arrested in Barnet in north London on suspicion of possession of a firearm, and a handgun was found at the scene. Two rounds of ammunition and £4 000 were also seized.
A total of £10 000 was found at another address in London.
Hogan-Howe said the new unit "will allow us to identify and relentlessly pursue the most harmful gangs and gang members".
He added: "It will help us identify young people on the periphery of gangs and work with partners to divert them away."
Officers have been given powers to use injunctions to prevent gang members from communicating with each other.
Violence and looting ripped through London in August, sparked by the death of a man in a police shooting in the northern district of Tottenham.
The unrest tore across the capital and then spread to the city of Birmingham, where three men were killed, and to Manchester, where a shopping centre was ransacked.
In London alone, police have arrested nearly 3 900 people over the riots and of that figure, 2 385 have been charged or summonsed.