DISRUPTOR officers targeting drug gangs and serious violence in west Essex have seized an estimated £4million of drugs during their team’s first year of operation.
Almost £3million of the total was seized during just three of the 56 warrants executed by officers from the West Disruptor team since May last year. They were all cannabis grows. The rest comprises cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs.
West Disruptor is one of three such teams in Essex who work with other local and specialist teams – including CID, our Operational Support Group, Force Support Unit, Dog Section and local & community policing teams – to target organised criminal activity & behaviour that impacts local communities, and to bring offenders to justice.
West Disruptor officers have arrested 179 people on suspicion of a variety of offences during the past 12 months, including attempted murder, sexual assault, kidnap, aggravated burglary, slavery, drugs supply, assault causing grievous bodily harm, money laundering and possession of firearms, offensive weapons and noxious substances.
They also seized tens of thousands of pounds in cash suspected to be the proceeds of crime, four firearms and numerous knives and other weapons, such as knuckledusters.
More than £1.8million of cannabis plants and cuttings and a shotgun were recovered in July 2021 after the team executed warrants in the Epping and Waltham Abbey areas.
One man was arrested and three people suspected to be victims of modern slavery were rescued and supported by specialist officers. Our inquiries are ongoing.
Two men were jailed for a total of two years for producing cannabis after a series of warrants were executed in September 2021 across Essex, Kent, London and Hertfordshire.
Around £324,000 of plants were recovered from one address and 5kg of prepared cannabis was recovered from another, plus £25,000 cash.
Aldesk Mucaj, 26, of Maidstone Road, Maidstone, was jailed for 14 months, and 41 year-old Artur Brakaj, of High Road, Leytonstone, was jailed for 10 months and ordered to forfeit more than £7,000 cash. An order was also made for the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs, paraphernalia and equipment.
And last month, they recovered an estimated £1million cannabis crop after executing a warrant at the derelict Calcutta Social Club in Tilbury. Assisted by our Force Support Unit, they sawed through a number of doors to reach the cultivation which had been set up inside.
Two men were arrested and our inquiries are ongoing.
Sergeant James Bull, of West Disruptor, says: “Drugs, and the serious violence and harm which are associated with them, cause untold misery to our neighbourhoods and to vulnerable people.
“We are here to work with communities to stop damage relating to drugs and drug dealing and give them some respite from criminal activity. But we can’t do it without people’s help.
“So, tell us what you know about criminal and anti-social behaviour in your area. Information about car number plates, names, CCTV and doorbell images is all useful knowledge which will help us to target those responsible. Don’t assume we already know, report it via our website at www.essex.police.uk or by ringing 101.”
But cocaine, heroin, cannabis and other illegal drugs are not the only focus of our Disruptor teams.
James says: “We mount various proactive policing operations which help to keep our communities safe and provide vital community reassurance. This includes working with other specialist policing teams to identify and arrest suspects for other crimes.”
Officers conducted house-to-house inquiries and provided vital community reassurance in the Chigwell area after a member of the Jewish community was assaulted in May last year.
A 19-year-old man is due to stand trial in July for causing grievous bodily harm with intent, robbery and religiously aggravated damage to property.
The same month, the team assisted with an investigation into a series of sexual offences committed in the River Lea Navigation area.
During one of their patrols, they arrested a man who fitted the suspect’s description and promptly searched his home address to secure important evidence, including clothes.
Domenico Anselmo, of Meadgate Road, Nazeing, was jailed for four years in December after admitting 17 offences, including sexual assault and indecent exposure.
Following an attack on a young child and a woman in a car in Brentwood, West Disruptor officers worked with specialist officers from our Serious Crime Directorate and Child Abuse Investigation Team and with the Metropolitan Police to locate the suspect.
They arrested Zach Hughes, 27, of Brentwood Road, Romford, the following day and a subsequent search of his home recovered key evidence. Hughes was jailed earlier this month for 23 years for the attempted murder of the child.
And a man is due to be sentenced shortly after admitting a series of sexual assaults in Aveley and Grays following work by the Disruptor team working with Grays CID.
Leonard Scamp, 33, of Love Lane, Aveley, was spotted and arrested by Disruptor officers after detectives had established an image of the suspect. Again, they searched his home address and found evidence key to the investigation. The quick arrest helped to reassure the local community.
Tell us what you know
We couldn’t do these warrants without your help – if you believe someone is involved in drugs, please report it to us.
We won’t tolerate people exploiting the vulnerable in our communities.
Ring 999 if it’s an emergency or a crime in progress.
Otherwise, you can report online at https://www.essex.police.uk or use the ‘Live Chat’ button to speak to an online operator between 7am-11pm.
You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.