About 1,000 officers from the Met and City of London police were raiding 160 addresses across all boroughs for Operation Vitality.
After 30 initial dawn raids, 18 people were arrested for drugs, violence and weapons offences. The other raids were taking place throughout today.
Officers confiscated a gun and gaffer tape at an address in Tower Hamlets, and eight arrests were made for possession with intent to supply. Other arrests included for assault, public order offences and motor theft.
In Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea, eight addresses linked to a west London Somali gang were raided. Two arrests were made for possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and cannabis and another for possession of an offensive weapon and affray. The Standard witnessed one raid on the Hammersmith and Fulham flat of five brothers suspected of being drug runners for the Somali network, which also spans Kensington & Chelsea and Brent. One of the brothers is in custody.
It is alleged that the gang tried to obtain a firearm last week and is known to groom young men and girls under 16 into dealing and weapon handling.
Police revealed last week that they found a loaded handgun among a pile of sandbags near the estate linked to the gang. The raids will continue for another three days.
Chief Superintendent Ellie O’Connor, borough commander of Kensington & Chelsea, said: “That particular [Somali] gang have been causing problems for the last few months and it’s predominantly linked to drug dealing around the Notting Hill area which is fuelling violence. It’s a bit of a turf war where they’re trying to infiltrate and take over a patch of ground.”
She added: “One problem is it’s like hitting frogs on the head, you hit them down in one place and they pop up in another. That’s why we’re linking up across boundaries.”