Gangs running drugs and prostitution rackets around the Paddington area have been targeted by police.

Operation Vanadium saw police and other organisations join forces to combat gangs profiting from drugs, prostitution and sexual exploitation offences in Westminster, with particular focus on Edgware Road and Sussex Gardens areas.

It was launched on April 22 and resulted in the arrests of three people. Cash totalling £10,000 was also seized as part of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The crackdown was supported by Westminster Council, Immigration, and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who all contributed towards the intelligence-led operation, which allowed it to encompass immigration, licensing and tax offences.

READ MORE: Couple caught hiding over £1m from HMRC

READ MORE: Emergency services called after Sussex Gardens gas cylinder explosion

Several anti-exploitation charities also assisted, offering victims advice and support in escaping criminal gangs.

'We're sending a message to criminals'

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Corrigan, who led Operation Vanadium, said: “The operation was aimed at arresting those who seek to profit from illegal drugs and the exploitation of vulnerable people.

“We’re sending a message to criminals that London is a hostile environment for this type of activity, and that those who are involved can expect to be caught and punished. We are thankful for the support from all the partner agencies involved.”

Three 36-year-olds were arrested on suspicion of money laundering offences. They were bailed to return on a date in July.

A Westminster Council spokesperson said: “Those involved in criminal activity should take this as a clear warning. We would urge anyone with information to contact the police.”

Anyone with any information that could assist police in tackling these offences is asked to call 101, 999 in an emergency or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org.

Last week a man from Kensington was arrested after a helicopter flown into the UK was found with Class A drugs worth £10 million .

And nearly 20 people face deportation after immigration raids in car washes in Hounslow.