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Police investigating alleged county lines drug rings in Essex make six arrests following raids in Romford and Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 14:36 28 January 2019

Police were called at 6.50pm. Picture: Denise Bradley

Police were called at 6.50pm. Picture: Denise Bradley

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Police officers investigating an alleged county lines drugs ring have made six arrests following a string of raids on homes in Romford, Dagenham and further afield in Essex.

Officers from across Essex Police – including Operation Raptor and the Serious Crime Directorate – carried out a week of action, which began on Monday January 21, targeting those trafficking drugs into the county.

The teams carried out targeted arrests and executed warrants in Romford, South Ockenden, Tilbury and Dagenham.

Individuals were arrested for offences including being concerned in the supply of drugs, drugs possession and obstructing police.

Arrests carried out in Thurrock focused around two county lines, called “Pablo” and “Frenchy”, linked to the supply of Class A drugs in the borough.

The crackdown formed part of a co-ordinated week of action across all seven forces in the eastern region – Essex, Cambs, Beds, Herts, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk – which was led by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) and also supported by the National Crime Agency.

Co-ordinated warrants were also carried out in London supported by the Metropolitan Police and the National Crime Agency.

The operation specifically aimed to target those involved in drug or gang-related crime, in particular criminals running “county lines”.

The term county line refers to a gang of drug dealers who transport drugs from urban areas, commonly London, into home counties and rural and coastal towns.

County lines use dedicated mobile numbers to supply their customers.

During the week of action 23 warrants were carried out, 60 arrests were made and officers seized 1,000 wraps of suspected Class A drugs, knives, imitation firearms and around £20,000 in cash across the whole of the eastern region and London as part of the crackdown.

Following the week of action, Temporary Det Ch Supt Stuart Hooper of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “This crackdown was about tackling those at the top end of these drug dealing gangs and making life miserable for them.

“In the last week alone we have caused major problems for a number of county line gangs trying to operate in Essex. These criminals may think they can come to our county to sell their illegal wares on our streets but they are seriously mistaken.

“Every day our officers are out on the streets proactively targeting these individuals and locking them up where they belong.

“We will continue targeting them and will work with our partners in law enforcement in neighbouring forces and beyond to create a hostile environment for these criminals, take them off our streets and make it clear that they are not welcome in Essex.”

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable for ERSOU, Simon Parkes, said: “County drugs lines have a significant impact on towns across the eastern region and drive a wide range of criminality.

“This is why we’re working together as police forces and a regional organised crime unit, alongside the National Crime Agency, to disrupt those who run and profit from them and to safeguard those affected.

“We’re really pleased with the results of this co-ordinated response to an issue which causes serious harm to our communities; this has been the product of months of hard work by officers.

“We have targeted those controlling county lines due to the links with the exploitation of vulnerable people, the pedalling of dangerous and illicit substances, and associated violence.

“The success of these types of operations replies upon communities working with their local police officers, providing information to help identify those dealing the drugs in their area as well as those who are vulnerable and being exploited, so if you do have any concerns in your area please do contact your local force on 101.”

Among those arrested were:

Connor Olujimi, 26 of Bell Avenue Romford, was arrested on Wednesday January 23.

He was charged with two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, possession with intent to supply a Class A drug, possession with intent to supply a Class B drug, offering to supply a Class A drug and offering to supply a Class B drug.

He appeared at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday January 24 where he was remanded in custody.

He will next appear at Basildon Crown Court on February 21.

Michael Lawal, 25 of Slaney Road, Romford was arrested on Thursday January 24.

He was charged with two count of possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply and two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

Mr Lawal appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Friday where he pleaded not guilty. He was remanded in custody and will next appear at Basildon Crown Court on a date yet to be set.

Olu Ayanfalu, 38, of Corve Lane, South Ockendon was arrested on Wednesday January 23.

He was charged with two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

He appeared at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday January 24 where he was remanded in custody.

He will next appear at Basildon Crown Court on February 21.

A 32-year-old man from Dagenham was arrested on Tuesday January 22 on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in the Colchester area. He has been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

A 24-year-old man from Romford was arrested on Wednesday January 23 on suspicion of supplying a Class A drug in Thurrock. He has been released under investigation.

A 26-year-old man from Romford was arrested on Thursday January 23 on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in Thurrock. He has been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

Two people were also arrested and charged in the lead-up to the week of action. They are:

Caleb Corbin, 21, of Peartree Close, South Ockendon, was arrested by officers on Canvey Island on Tuesday, January 15.

He was charged with two counts of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs. He appeared at Southend Magistrate’s Court on January 17 where he admitted the charges. He was remanded in custody ahead of his next appearance at Basildon Crown Court on February 14 for sentence.

Jason Woodall, 46, of Farm Road, Rainham, was arrested on Tuesday January 15 in Canvey.

He was charged with two counts of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs, driving without insurance and possession of a Class C controlled drug. He was remanded in custody and will next appear at Basildon Crown Court on February 14.

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 us on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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