Four held after armed police in gang crime raids

A police van leaves the scene at Gilmerto. Picture: LISA FERGUSON

A police van leaves the scene at Gilmerto. Picture: LISA FERGUSON

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Armed police launched a series of early-morning raids as part of a crackdown following a series of gang-related incidents in the south of the city.

Four people were detained as the Organised Crime Unit’s investigation into the outbreak violence continues at a “rapid pace”.

Specialist armed officers, plain clothed police, a dogs van and an ambulance risk and resilience unit descended on five properties in the Gilmerton and Inch areas of the Capital at 7am.

More people are expected to be detained later today as property searches continue.

The raids followed a series of drive-by shootings over the past month – which also involved homemade bombs being left on two doorsteps.

Detective Superintendent David Gordon said this morning’s activity – which involved 50 officers – was a “direct response” to the recent incidents.

He said: “We are making strategic arrests to remove criminal individuals who we believe to be involved in the workings of organised crime.

“There are no arrests in relation to the firearms discharges, but investigations continue and are progressing at a rapid pace.

“Police Scotland has a zero tolerance approach to gun crime and we are targeting the areas affected in relation to criminal activity.”

He said today’s operation may lead to further properties being visited by officers.

“We are carrying out interviews, searching premises and acting on intelligence and information provided by the public,” he added.

“But we still need the community to tell us what they know about those involved in gun crime.”

Det Supt Gordon – who has called for anyone who knew about the location of the firearms used in the incidents to come forward – said: “Police Scotland will use all tactics at our disposal to prevent gun crime and the simple way to avoid police enforcement is to have nothing to do with firearms or others who use them.”

Last weekend’s incidents in Gilmerton are being linked to another shooting at a house in Fernieside Avenue a fortnight ago. A Range Rover belonging to Dionne Hendry, the wife of Marmion pub killer Jamie Bain, was shot at on Saturday, while a homemade bomb wrapped in a Liverpool FC scarf was placed on the doorstep of her home in The Murrays Brae.

Another device was put outside a house in Walter Scott Avenue, at around the same time shots were fired at a property in Gilmerton Dykes Drive.

Neither of the bombs were active but both carried threatening messages, including the note: “Pay what you are due lad.”

The incidents have sparked fears of an ongoing gangland feud, and police are working with forces across the UK – including detectives in Merseyside – on the case.

The Organised Crime Unit is leading a single investigation into the four incidents, plus an additional report of suspicious activity outside a property in the Hyvots Bank area on Friday. The Fernieside Avenue home was sprayed with bullets by someone in a hooded top at around 12.40am on September 9. Police are still looking for a dark blue coupé getaway car – believed to be a Seat Leon – which was driven off by a second person.

Police said last Friday’s suspicious incident at Hyvots Bank Avenue – at which two men arrived at a house and asked for a particular individual between 9.30pm and 9.45pm – was also crucial.

Det Supt Gordon said: “There will be further enforcement activity and more arrests. We will maintain a visible and strong position within the south of the city to demonstrate that this unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated and anyone in possession of illegal firearms will be dealt with robustly.”

Police also revealed that a 32-year-old woman had been arrested on Wednesday in connection with the incidents.

A police command vehicle has been deployed to the Gilmerton and Inch areas to encourage the public to come forward.

Police have had a number of anonymous calls from members of the public via Crimestoppers. Anyone with information can contact the charity on 0800 555 111, or Police Scotland on 101.