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Police bust 'largest UK drug gang'

Raid
British police raided 23 homes and businesses Wednesday.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British and Colombian police have arrested more than two dozen people in a major operation they say has smashed the largest drugs gang ever to target London.

A series of raids in both countries took out the Colombian-based cartel, which has flooded Britain with cocaine for years, police said Wednesday.

About 100 police officers raided 23 locations and arrested 10 men and two women, most from South America, Scotland Yard said.

Detectives said busting the cartel, which is based near Cali, was expected to have a huge impact on the price of cocaine in the UK.

The dawn raids in London were timed to coordinate with those in Colombia, where police targeted another 25 locations and arrested at least 15 people.

Police said the raids were the culmination of a two-year operation.

During the past six months, police arrested 20 people and seized cocaine with a street value of more than 20 million ($33 million).

"At the moment we are aware that this organization has netted in excess of 100 million in the course of the past 18 months," said Detective Chief Superintendent Sharon Kerr, head of Scotland Yard's Flying Squad.

She said the 20 people arrested before Wednesday's raids were the "frontmen" peddling the drugs.

"Today's operation was about ripping out the heart of the network. This was aimed at the very top tier of this criminality," she said.

"It's the biggest drugs operation and cartel that has ever been seen in this country," Kerr said.

"If you look at the totality of it, it's enormous. It's huge.... These are the drugs that rip communities apart.

"This was the final stage of an operation against an enduring, sophisticated and hard-to-penetrate criminal network.

British Detective Chief Inspector Martin Molloy, head of the secretive Special Projects Unit that orchestrated Wednesday's raids, predicted a "massive increase" in the price of cocaine in the UK.


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