Detectives recovered drugs, firearms and stolen vehicles from a container yard in Purfleet (Credit: Metropolitan Police Service)
Officers raided a commercial container yard in Purfleet today which is thought to be used by an organised crime network that exploits children to transport drugs.
They searched 200 containers and found three stolen ‘off-road’ vehicles, drugs, cash and firearms.
A man was arrested at the site on suspicion of possession of a Section 5 firearm.
Detectives also raided two properties in Havering which resulted in two men and a woman being arrested for drugs offences and possession of a firearm.
They found a quantity of cash which is suspected of being acquired through crime.
Searches are expected to continue throughout the day.
The organised crime network is believed to operate in London and Lincolnshire.
“There’s an undeniable link between drugs and violence and it’s crucial we continue to act on this,” said Detective Sergeant Owen Morgan.
“That’s why disrupting the supply of drugs continues to form a central part of our work to tackle violence on the streets.
“This operation will not only disrupt criminals using lock-up facilities to store their criminal property, but will also supply a wealth of information that, following this operation, will be fully investigated.
“Along with our partner agencies, we are working hard to safeguard children and vulnerable adults by targeting those at the top of the network, the individuals who don’t risk handling the drugs themselves, but coordinate the distribution through the exploitation of others.
“The sale of drugs can be devastating to the quality of life for communities, not least to the families of vulnerable youngsters who are recruited by criminals to supply the product face to face with users, often in other parts of the country without their family’s knowledge.
“To the general public, county lines if often seen as nothing more than drug dealing, but in reality it is so much more. It causes harm to generations of young people and their families and has a negative impact on the quality of life for those living alongside it.
“Initially, the recruits are tempted into crime by the promise of cash rewards and they often believe that their involvement with a successful drug supplier will increase their own social status.
“They couldn’t be more wrong. Once involved, they are often threatened with violence and can find themselves unable to escape the network without help.
“We will continue to work with our policing colleagues both regionally and nationally in order to disrupt and dismantle organised criminal networks.”
Todays operation is the result of months of planning by the Metropolitan Police, Essex Police and British Transport Police.
Anyone with information about drug crime that wants to remain anonymous should contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
They do not ask your name and cannot trace your call or I.P address.
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