Monday, June 27, 2005

British police have arrested five Turkish men who are part of a gang that has been terrorizing north London

BBC News:

The gang is alleged to have carried out at least 15 armed robberies this year, using knives, Japanese swords and guns.

The men - three of them aged between 23 and 26 - were arrested in a Thursday night raid on a Hornsey cafe by more than 70 officers.

The gang is believed to have targeted London's 200,000 Turkish community before widening their attacks.

The police raid, at 2345 BST, involved members of the SO19 specialist firearms unit carrying rifles, pistols, stun guns and pyrotechnic grenades, as well as other police units.

The police operation, codenamed Berryville, was part of a month-long investigation.

Commanding officer Det Ch Insp Neil Hibberd said: "Seven men were in the cafe and three were arrested and obviously inquiries will go on in relation to the others but we have immigration colleagues coming in now.

"It is a significant success and obviously we will carry on with our inquiries in respect of other people that may be concerned in the attacks."

Previous prosecutions against the men - whose gang is known as the Tottenham Boys - are believed to have failed because of witness intimidation.

Mr Hibberd said: "These armed robberies involved a group of young Turkish-speaking men in groups of between four to 10 going into a number of premises including cafes, snooker halls and working flats [brothels].

"They were going in, corralling them into one room, beating them, putting guns to their heads and samurai swords to their throats."

Det Sup James Dickie said: "We can link 15 offences at this time. There may be more and from my experience there will be a degree of under-reporting in the Turkish-speaking community because of the threat of intimidation."

The men are being held at a north London police station and have been charged with offences relating to some of the robberies, police said.

A round of ammunition and drugs believed to be herbal cannabis and cannabis resin were also seized.

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