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Deposit box crime swoop's 1,000 investigations

PUBLISHED: 13:43 30 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:20 07 September 2010

Tan Parsons BARS, nightclubs and business have been raided in the latest stage of a major police operation to crack down on organised crime. Police arrested nine people after the early-morning raids for alleged crimes including money-laundering and immigr

Tan Parsons

BARS, nightclubs and business have been raided in the latest stage of a major police operation to crack down on organised crime.

Police arrested nine people after the early-morning raids for alleged crimes including money-laundering and immigration offences.

The swoops were the latest part of Operation Rize, an investigation which started in June 2008 with a raid on a Hampstead safe-deposit centre.

DCI Mark Ponting, who heads the inquiry, said: "Operation Rize has resulted in more than 1,000 investigations into criminal activity and is proving to be an immense success, with firearms, ammunition, drugs and a huge amount of other property - including cash - recovered.

"The hard work continues for the Met Police to ensure that all those who sought to use these facilities as a way to hide illegal activity or ill-gotten gains are brought to justice.

"It is only right that London's communities can be confident that they can legitimately store items of value at a regulated facility.

"The Met are committed to taking cash out of crime and investigating those criminals who seek to abuse the system."

During the 15-hour operation, which began at 5am on Thursday, nine bars, clubs and restaurants on Inverness Street, Camden High Street and Chalk Farm Road were searched.

Staff from the UK Border Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions carried out identity and immigration checks on staff members, some of whom are believed to be living and working illegally within the UK.

Three bars were told to close their doors for good after breaching fire and licensing regulations. Under Operation Rize, a total of 3,554 boxes were seized from safe deposit centres in Hampstead, Edg-ware and central London. A large number of those have been returned along with their contents but police are holding on to £14.8million as they continue to investigate more than 1,000 individual cases.

Since the start of the investigation 21 organised criminal networks have been disrupted. Aside from the cash, officers have recovered four firearms, forged passports and identity documents, various class A drugs, illegally imported elephant tusks, items for use in organised benefit fraud, plus evidence of organised human-trafficking, paedophilia and money-laundering.

Leslie Sieff and Milton Woolf, of Hampstead, remain on police bail pending money-laundering enquiries. No charges have yet been brought against the pair.

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