West Essex: specialist officers seize more than £850,000 of drugs in 2022
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Disruptor officers targeting drug gangs and serious violence in west Essex seized more than £850,000 of drugs during 2022.
Several warrants resulted in cannabis plants with an estimated total street value of £850,000 being seized during the year.
One notable seizure took place in Loughton in March when, following an investigation, the West Disruptor team seized 165 cannabis plants - which had a street value of up to £530,000 - together with associated growing equipment and drugs paraphernalia.
A man was later jailed for six months after admitting to being concerned in the production of cannabis.
And in August, after executing a warrant in Ellerman Road, Tilbury, Disruptor officers seized a grow of 55 cannabis plants, with a street value of approximately £45,000. Aldo Bilalaj, 20, later admitted being concerned in the production of cannabis and in October was sentenced to 15 months in jail.
They were two of five suspects arrested during the year in west Essex for cannabis production and supply who have been sentenced so far. They have received prison sentences totalling 52 and a half months.
In all, the West Disruptor team was involved in the execution of 29 drugs warrants during 2022 and, as well as cannabis plants, they also seized quantities of other illegal drugs, such as cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, amphetamine and psilocybin mushrooms.
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.
Last year, they arrested 129 people on suspicion of a variety of offences, including aggravated burglary, robbery, sexual assault, kidnapping, possession with intent to supply class A and B drugs, production of class A drugs and cannabis, being concerned in the supply of class B drugs and assault causing grievous bodily harm.
And they also seized a significant amount of cash suspected to be the proceeds of crime and recovered several weapons, including knives, imitation firearms and a machete.
Disruptor officers often go out on proactive plain-clothes patrols and during the year they also stopped and searched people across the Brentwood, Epping Forest, Harlow and Thurrock districts.
People are stopped and searched if officers suspect they are carrying stolen or prohibited goods, such as drugs, or offensive weapons.
In July, officers conducting proactive patrols in Harlow stopped and searched a vehicle and recovered 12 wraps of cocaine and a quantity of cash. A search of a suspect’s address led to a further £5,000 in cash being seized, along with items relating to drugs supply, such as deal bags and scales.
At Chelmsford Crown Court in October, Valdi Carpuni, 27, of no fixed address, admitted possession with intent to supply cannabis and the possession of criminal property and was sentenced to a total of 36 months in prison.
“Illegal drug supply, dealing and use causes harm and misery to vulnerable people in our communities and is associated with serious violence. “The Disruptor teams were set up to tackle such law-breaking and we use a variety of policing tactics to prevent, investigate and tackle organised criminal activity and behaviour that impacts local communities. “Warrants allow us to tackle dealers and their suppliers and seize big quantities of drugs but we also use stop and search to keep people safe, for example by deterring people from carrying knives and dealing drugs in public. “We also work with other local and specialist policing teams to identify, investigate and put suspects before the courts for other crimes and anti-social behaviour which harm our communities. “However, we can’t do this without the help of the public, who can often provide vital information which we add to our own intelligence to build evidence to apply for warrants and assist our investigations. “So, please 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/ro or by ringing 101.” Acting Sergeant Mitchell Baker, of West Disruptor
Tell us what you know
The production and sale of drugs by organised criminal gangs involves the exploitation of vulnerable people, including children, who can be forced into criminal activity against their will.
The trade in illegal drugs is inextricably linked to violence and the proceeds from drugs funds more criminal activity which leads to fear and misery for individuals and communities.
Stopping the criminals behind the growth and sale of cannabis and other illegal drugs is vital in tackling violent crime and helps keep our communities safe.
If you have any information about drug dealing or concerns about suspicious activity linked to the trade in illegal drugs, please report it online where you can also use our Live Chat service between 10am and 9pm on weekdays (excluding bank holidays), or you can ring 101. If it’s a crime in progress, always ring 999.
You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.