HUNDREDS of elite cops raided a traveller site in the early hours of this morning in one of the biggest gun crime stings EVER.
Armed anti-terrorism officers and sniffer dogs joined the 3am raid at the site in Orpington, south-east London.
It comes amid a spike in gun crime in the capital following the easing of lockdown, Sky News reports.
Fatal incidents involving guns have doubled in the weeks since the shutdown lifted.
It’s reported that police made their move after learning that people connected with the site were involved in supplying guns to criminal gangs.
Images from the scene show scores of officers marching through the camp and surrounding mobile homes in the minutes before the raid began.
Flash-bangs were used to disorient travellers at the site before police battered down doors of static caravans.
Elite officers from counter-terrorism units in the capital were among those involved in the raid.
A local resident told The Sun: “It was really frightening. But we’re used to it round here, it happens all the time.
“I was woken up by the helicopters and the drones and now I’ve been told the police are going to be here for the next three days.
“We shouldn’t have to put up with it. It’s horrible living round here.”
Aerial shots from a police helicopter and drone involved in surveillance screened this morning show police moving across the site and standing beside caravans.
Another resident revealed: “I heard the bangs out there and saw the flashes.
“It was about three o’clock this morning and nine police vehicles were outside our house.
“Me and my wife thought it was fireworks but then we saw the flashes and thought it must be guns.
“Then about three helicopters were flying about. There is a lot going on like this round here at the moment.”
As of midday, seven people have been arrested for offences including possession with intent to supply drugs, handling stolen goods and burglary.
Two people found at the site are being supported by the Met’s Modern Slavery team, while 17 dogs have also been seized.
A woman who lives nearby said she suddenly woke up in the night to the sound of the raid beginning.
She said: “I thought they were gunshots, and a helicopter and sirens.
“I have been for a walk in the field and saw police officers wearing riot helmets and other police wearing blue uniforms with a springer spaniel.”
Officials from the Met Police this morning said “hundreds of officers in more than 30 vehicles” carried out “search warrants” from 2.45am.
It’s expected that officers will remain at the site for at least two days.
It was really frightening. But we’re used to it round here, it happens all the time.
Commander Kyle Gordon, the lead for the Met’s firearms operations, said: “Tackling violent crime remains the Met’s top priority and our efforts to prevent serious harm and loss of life on the streets of London have not wavered, including over the last few challenging months.
“This operation clearly demonstrates that every officer – from local neighbourhood teams all the way up to our specialist crime investigators – is focused on bringing those responsible for violence and organised criminality on the streets of London to justice, to keep our communities safe.
“Over recent months we have seen an increase in the number of firearms incidents across London and proactive operations like this are crucial to removing the availability of weapons and drugs on the streets.”
And Superintendent Andy Brittain, from the South Area BCU, added: “We’ve been listening to the concerns of the local community and I hope that today’s activity shows how seriously we take your concerns and that we do act upon them.
“This is a prime example of why we rely on intelligence and information so much from our communities. It helps us keep your streets safe.
Superintendent Andy Brittain also moved to reassure residents, saying in a statement this morning: “This is all part of our plan to keep the capital safe from violence.
“There will be some disruption and I apologise for the noise and any inconvenience caused.
“This will carry on for the next couple of days.”
Sun Online has contacted the Met Police for comment.
Earlier this year, Britain’s biggest-ever crime bust captured 746 criminal kingpins.
Some £54million in dirty cash, two tonnes of drugs and 77 firearms were seized after officers from the National Crime Agency were able to get inside formerly secure phone system EncroChat.
One of the country’s biggest-ever seizure of guns happened in Kent in 2015.
It came after 22 Czech-made assault rifles and Skorpion machine pistols were smuggled into Britain on board a motor cruiser from France.
Officers found the guns alongside silencers and 1,000 live rounds of ammunition.