TEN suspected crack cocaine dealers are being held following dawn raids across the Greenwich borough and Gillingham.

The suspects, all men aged between 16 and 41, were arrested after warrants on 11 homes were executed at about 5.30am.

Detectives believe the infamous gang have set-up a crack cocaine ring between Greenwich and Gillingham.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Mick Reay, of the Met Police Trident Gang Unit, says gang members are using public transport to shuttle the Class A drug down to Gillingham, often hundreds of pounds worth each time.

He said: "We tend to see they’ll go to specific areas and identify vulnerable people.

"On this occasion they’ve identified a couple of addresses of drug users. They’ve taken over those addresses and taken over the drug distribution of that small area."

More than 100 officers from the Met and Kent Police were involved in the joint operation which targeted six homes in Greenwich and five in Gillingham.

News Shopper:

Riot police officers preparing to swoop on house in Plumstead

DCI Reay says intelligence gathered over the past three months has showed a spike in offences committed by Londoners outside of the capital.

He said: "We haven’t really established the reasoning for that other than there is a huge amount of police activity in London against gang activity and there may be a perception by those involved if they move their criminal activity out of the London area they may have an easier time of it.

"Of course our message to them is that no matter where you go, if you’re part of a gang in London, wherever you commit those offences we will investigate you and we will arrest you."

He added: "Although they’re moving out of London the proceeds of the crime they’re committing are coming back into London and they’re using that to buy more drugs, in extreme cases buy firearms and to fund their lifestyles back in London."

At this stage the exact quantity of drugs seized following the raids is unknown.

News Shopper:

DCI Mick Reay outside the raided house in Plumstead

News Shopper reporter SAM CHRISTIE joined the dramatic raid in Plumstead.

IT’S 5.30am and the streets are dark and silent.

Lined up in formation, officers in riot gear march quietly along a parade of shops in Herbert Road as they prepare to swoop on the home of a suspected crack cocaine dealer.

I tag along after hopping out of the back of a police van after the driver parks just round the corner.

Officers queue patiently outside the front door to the terraced house, close to the junction with Ripon Road, before a roar of ‘police’ goes up as officers break down the door to catch the suspect.

A man, aged 21 and of Somalian descent, was quickly detained and a sniffer dog brought into help search the five-storey family home.

Officers discovered a bag of cannabis and £1,000 in cash and he was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

As I left a full search of the house was being carried out.