Twenty people were arrested in dawn raids this morning as part of an ongoing operation targeting drug dealing and gang activity in Waltham Forest.

Police raided 20 properties in east London and Essex including in Walthamstow, Chingford, Leytonstone and Buckhurst Hill, arresting one woman and 19 men.

Officers found a handgun, a sword, a hunting knife and a significant quantity of Class A and Class B drugs and cash after executing the warrants.

The raids come just 11 days after a teenager was killed in a drive-by shooting in Vallentin Road, Walthamstow.

The operation is part of Project Zariba which targets violent offenders and gangs in Waltham Forest and Newham.

The suspects were arrested for a range of offences including possession with intent to supply Class A and B drugs, while one man was also arrested for possession of a firearm.

All were taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody.

Detective Superintendent Zena Marshall of Waltham Forest, said: “The levels of violence we have seen in recent weeks are completely unacceptable.

“This operation should reassure our communities that we do listen and we are doing all within our power to bring to justice those intent on committing acts of violence.

“We will continue to work closely with colleagues across the Met to tackle the supply of drugs and the associated criminality we have experienced recently.”

Addresses which officers continue to search today (Wednesday, October 3) include those in Warren Road, Stanmore Road and Orange Grove in Leytonstone and Hungerdown, Chingford.

In Walthamstow, police swooped on homes in Forest Road, Avondale Road, Acacia Road, Lea Bridge Road and Brunel Road.

A property in Princes Road, Buckhurst Hill, was also raided in the operation supported by officers from the Met’s Territorial Support Group, local borough officers, NPAS and the dog support unit.

Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, urged people who witness drug dealing in their communities to report it to police, saying it is “not acceptable to turn a blind eye”.

She said the council is working with the police “to tackle the scourges of gang violence, drug-dealing and intimidation” across the borough.

Cllr Coghill said: “I congratulate everyone involved in these raids for their hard work and determination.

“We are also working to tackle the issues that lead young people toward gangs and give them the support they need to succeed in their lives.

“Together with all our partners and the local community we will beat the gangs and show them that we will not tolerate them in Waltham Forest. Our residents deserve better.”