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UK: Drugs raid on former Rastafarian temple


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Police raided a former Rastafarian temple today and arrested 23 people for allegedly dealing in cannabis and other offences .

More than 100 officers were involved in the raid, executed under drugs and firearms legislation.

The Metropolitan police said today that the premises - a squat made up of three terraced houses - had for many years been used as a Rastafarian temple, but in recent weeks had been taken over by drug dealers.

Chief Superintendent Martin Bridger, area commander for the London borough of Lambeth, said this morning's raid had followed weeks of surveillance.

He said: "This is a culmination of a long-term surveillance operation where there is clear evidence that the premises were being used to supply drugs.

"In the past few weeks we've arrested around 200 people coming away from the premises and they have even had cannabis on them."

He said that the premises in Kennington, south London - thought to be London's oldest squat - had been taken over by criminal gangs.

He said: "Some of the management committee from the Rastafarian community have come to me to say that it has not been used as a Rastafarian temple for a number of weeks.

"These other people have taken it over. It has a long history of being a Rastafarian temple but that is not what it is being used for [at present]."

Mr Bridger said a search of the properties, which are decorated in the green, yellow and red colours of Rastafarianism, would now take place.

Earlier, police said that the 3am raid came after reports of "a high level of serious criminality," which had been "adversely affecting the local communities."

The Rastafari movement, or Rasta, emerged among working-class black people in 1930s Jamaica.

Among a complex set of religious and cultural beliefs, Rastafarians believe in the sacred use of cannabis. There are thought to be more than one million Rastafarians around the world.

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SOURCE: The Telegraph
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COPYRIGHT: The telegraph
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