THIRTEEN people were arrested, weapons including a knife and axe were recovered and heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis were seized during a week of heightened action across Essex targeting drug dealing gangs.
Nationally, from Monday October 8 to Sunday October 14, police forces across the UK took part in a week of intensified action focusing on ‘county lines’.
‘County lines’ are gangs of drug dealers from large urban areas, who run drug dealing networks into the towns, coastal and rural areas of neighbouring counties. The dealers involve in this type of crime use a mobile phone line to supply drugs to customers.
The nationwide crackdown was the first to be co-ordinated by the National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC).
In Essex, Operation Raptor teams worked with policing colleagues from across the force to execute warrants, carry out high visibility and covert patrols, arrest known and wanted drug dealers and used Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to target those travelling into the county to commit crime.
During the crackdown 13 people, including a 13-year-old boy, were arrested for offences ranging from possessing drugs with intent to supply, burglary and theft of motor vehicle.
A total of six blades were seized, including a zombie knife, as well as a knuckle duster and an axe.
Officers also seized numerous quantities of the Class A drugs heroin, crack cocaine cannabis and nearly £1,000 in cash.
Following the crackdown Chief Supt Paul Wells, Essex Police’s lead for Operation Raptor, said: “Every day our Operation Raptor teams are out there targeting those involved in drug dealing.
“But the issue of drug dealing gangs is not one that can be solved by any one force working in isolation.
“As with this week of action, we have and will continue to work with our neighbouring forces to target these ruthless drug dealers as they cross our borders to ply their trade.
“But we must also continue to work with our partners in local authorities, housing, health and social care, and education to ensure we recognise those at risk of exploitation by these gangs and divert them away from a life of violence, crime and drugs.
“We also continue to urge those members of the community to keep telling us about the gangs and drug dealers operating in their areas. Their information is vital in helping us to put these individuals behind bars.”
Those arrested or reported to court include:
*A 19-year-old man arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis with intent to supply following the execution of a warrant in Hillcrest Avenue, Grays. He has been released under investigation.
*A woman reported to court for cannabis and amphetamine possession following the execution of a warrant in Stagden Cross, Basildon.
*In Southend, officers arrested 24-year-old James Brooks, who was wanted after being given a jail term in his absence. On Thursday September 20, following a hearing at the Court of Appeal, Brooks was given a 32-month jail term in his absence and ordered to surrender himself to Southend police station the same day. He failed to surrender and was arrested by Operation Raptor during the crackdown. The Court of Appeal quashed a suspended sentence given to Brooks in July this year and instead sentenced him to the jail term. Brooks of Victoria Avenue, Southend, was sentenced for producing a Class B drug, possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply and possession with intent to supply a Class A drug.
*Three men, aged 19, 25 and 19, were arrested in London Road, Grays for offences including being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs, possession of a Class B drug, theft of a motor vehicle and possessing an offensive weapon. All three were released under investigation.
*Dean Hosford, 39, of Briscoe Road, Pitsea was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary and one of attempted burglary. He appeared at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on Saturday October 13 to face the charges. He was remanded in custody and will next appear at Basildon Crown Court on November 12.
*A warrant was executed at Broomfields Court, Basildon and three people were arrested. Rahman Hassan, 30, of no fixed abode was charged with two counts of possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply while 59-year-old Maureen Doyle of Broomfields Court was charged with two counts of possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply and acquiring criminal property. Both appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Friday October 12 to face the charges. They will next appear at Basildon Crown Court on November 12. A 13-year-old boy, arrested on suspicion of possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply, was released under investigation.
*Max Vine, 39, of Mansell Close, Leigh, was arrested and charged with failing to appear in court. He had been due to appear at court to face a charge of possessing a knife. Vine appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Friday to face both charges. He was remanded in custody and will next appear at Basildon Crown Court on November 9th.
*Karim Brooks, 22, of Pantile Avenue, Southend was arrested and charged with possession of the Class B drug Cannabis. He will appear at Southend Magistrates’ Court on October 24 to face the charge.
*In addition in Southend: a 26-year-old man from Southend was reported to court for driving offences; a 24-year-old man from Westcliff was arrested on suspicion of taking a vehicle without consent but was released without charge; and a 34-year-old man from Southend was arrested on suspicion of drug driving and driving whilst disqualified. He has been released under investigation.
During the crackdown warrants were also executed at: Calcutta Road, Tilbury and two were executed in Beech Road, South Ockendon, but these did not result in arrests.
Essex Police set up Operation Raptor teams in the North, South and West of the county to tackle drug and gang-related crime.
If you have information about drug or gang-related crime in your community contact Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.