Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Yard Targets 24 Foreign Vice and Drug Gang Chiefs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Yard Targets 24 Foreign Vice and Drug Gang Chiefs

Article excerpt

Byline: JUSTIN DAVENPORT

SCOTLAND YARD is targeting a hitlist of about 24 foreign crime bosses trying to muscle in on London's illicit vice and drugs trade.

Detectives carried out raids on five addresses across London as they launched a major new operation with the immigration service to tackle the ringleaders of foreign gangs moving into the capital's crime rackets.

The suspects, many of them illegal immigrants, are described by detectives as key players in crime gangs engaged in the flourishing vice trade, as well as human-trafficking, fraud and drug-dealing operations. About 200 officers will be involved in the initiative, codenamed Operation Maxim. They will work alongside a permanent intelligence unit gathering evidence on foreign gangs at work in London. In the short term much of the intelligence will come from the Government's Operation Reflex taskforce, which deals with international organised immigration crime.

Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, head of the Met's Specialist Crime Directorate, said: "Intelligence shows us that London is a hub for illegal entrants intent on committing serious and organised crime, and Operation Maxim will help dismantle and disrupt those networks. These criminal organisations not only traffic illegal entrants into the UK - often into lives of exploitation - but also bring increased violence, guns and dangerous drugs into their own communities. If we allow criminality within them to flourish we will end up with turf wars."

Most of the 24 suspects come from Eastern European countries, such as Albania, which have already taken control of 70 per cent of the Soho vice trade and are now breaking into legitimate businesses around London, such as car washing. Others are involved in gangs from Jamaica, the Far East and the Russian mafia. Many use false identities. …

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