A man suspected to have organised alleged criminal associates to burn down houses across London in return for payment has been arrested.
In the early hours of Thursday, 30 July officers from the Met’s Specialist Firearms Command and specialist search officers assisted detectives in carrying out a search warrant at an address on Halsbury Road in Northolt.
Specially trained firearms officers used a tactic named ‘containment and call out’ – colloquially known as a “dig out” – to bring the suspect out of the address. This tactic is used in circumstances where officers have intelligence to suggest the suspect is dangerous and could be in possession of weapons. It is commonly used to reduce the risk which could be posed by a suspect to officers and the wider public.
After leaving the address, a 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of three counts of conspiracy to commit arson, one with intent to endanger life in relation to three incidents in April 2020.
The arrest forms part of an investigation under Operation Eternal – the most significant operation the Met has ever launched against serious and organised crime.
Over the last few months, European partners and the National Crime Agency (NCA) have shared data with the Met relating to messages sent via an encrypted communication system called Encrochat. They obtained this information through an international operation named Venetic.
Specialist detectives across the Met have worked relentlessly to form investigations around those utilising these Encrochat handsets to commit some of the most serious crimes across the capital. They have monitored hundreds of handsets and analysed thousands of encrypted messages to build more than 100 cases – including this one.
Detective Sergeant John Cowell, one of the investigating officers, said: “The investigations being carried out under Operation Eternal, including this one, are focused on some of the most serious, high harm criminality across London. This particular case focuses on a linked series of arsons across the capital, which could have killed or seriously injured many people. The suspect in this case is alleged to have paid individuals to burn down houses and set fire to vehicles on behalf of other alleged criminal associates.
“Our top priority is tackling violence on the streets of London, and we will continue to target those involved in the most serious offences which cause unimaginable harm and blight our communities.
“This is just one of many investigations which will continue at pace over the coming months. We will not stop until we have seen these cases through the courts and brought those behind these crimes to justice.”