Cops crackdown on city drug dealers

POLICE in Ipswich have arrested nearly 200 people this year in a purge on drug dealing gangs from London attempting to infiltrate the town.

POLICE in Ipswich have arrested nearly 200 people this year in a purge on drug dealing gangs from London attempting to infiltrate the town.

The forces of law and order are today pledging no quarter will be given in the war being waged against those from the capital and elsewhere who come to Suffolk peddling death and despair.

COLIN ADWENT, GRANT SHERLOCK AND HELEN SKENE report on the success of the zero tolerance police operation, codenamed Academy.

DEALERS coming to Ipswich from London to supply drugs have today been warned they will be shown no mercy.

The warning came during the sentencing of teenage drug dealer Patrice Polius, of Lower Clapton, to three years and nine months in prison.

Judge Neil McKittrick, sitting at Ipswich Crown Court, said: “It is clear there have been in this crown court over the past month a number of defendants who have come from London to Ipswich only and expressly to deal drugs in this town and that will stop.

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“Mercy from the court will be in short supply and dealers will be disinclined to come to Ipswich”.

Polius, like many other young London dealers, had few previous convictions and gave the excuse that he was forced to sell narcotics by menacing drug dealers higher up the chain of supply.

Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said police raided an address in Adair Road, Ipswich, on June 18 and discovered Polius with nine deals of crack-cocaine, five deals of heroin and £500 in cash.

He told police he had come to Ipswich with 40 wraps of Class A drugs.

Polius, 18, was bailed but a week later was spotted in Gippeswyk Park near Ipswich Railway Station.

He threw down a bag containing 23 wraps of cocaine and heroin and £419 in cash. Again he told police he had come to Ipswich from London with 40 wraps.

The following day his London address was searched and a “large amount of heroin” was discovered.

Polius pleaded guilty to two charges of dealing drugs, two charges of possessing drugs, one charge of possessing drugs at a London address and to committing a burglary in London. He asked for a drug offence in Alexander Park, Ipswich, to be taken into consideration.

Shahnawaz Khan, mitigating, said his client had one previous conviction for possessing cocaine in July 2006.

He said: “A close friend of my client informed a known drug dealer, a violent man, that Mr Polius would be a good candidate to deal drugs”.

He said Polius was threatened and forced to deal in Ipswich.

He was then arrested and lost the drugs and money to police and so was forced to come back to Ipswich to sell more drugs for the London gangster.

Mr Khan said his client had not led “a lavish lifestyle” and was at the bottom of the chain of street dealing.

Judge McKittrick said Polius' only mitigation was his age and guilty pleas.

EARLIER this month 19-year-old drug dealer Michael Okadigbo was sentenced to four years.

Crack-cocaine dealer Okadigbo was spotted in Cambridge Drive, Ipswich, by police as he threw a match box to the ground. It contained seven wraps of crack-cocaine and five wraps of heroin valued at £190.

Okadigbo, of Westbourne Road, Holloway, also had £230 in cash on him.

At Ipswich Crown Court he pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply.

The court heard that when Okadigbo was young his father died but he had passed his GCSEs at A and B levels and his mother was “very upstanding.”

Judge David Goodin said: “There is a growing concern about the frequency of young black males coming from London to push this stuff around this town.

“You know that dealing Class A drugs is dealt with seriously because of the consequences of dependency, which leads to burglaries and stealing to feed habits.”

Okadigbo was sentenced to four years detention and training in a young offenders' institution.

ARON Prentice, of Courthill Road, Lewisham, was jailed for more than three years when he pleaded guilty to three drugs' charges.

The 25-year-old admitted possessing 19.07gms of heroin with intent to supply, possessing 11.45gms of cocaine with intent to supply and a further charge of possessing 0.3gms of cannabis.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court was told Prentice was charged after police approached him in Chantry Park on May 11 at about 11.40am.

Officers found a total of 118 wraps of drugs, 24 or which were on Prentice while the others were retrieved from nearby bushes.

Prentice's case sent the case to Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing, where he got 40 months in jail for each offence of possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply, to run concurrently.

For the offence of possessing cannabis, he was given no separate penalty.

A CONVICTED drug dealer who ignored a warning from a judge by dealing again is back behind bars for a six-year stretch.

Last month Ipswich Crown Court heard Hamza Ahmed, of Pelican Close, Ipswich, was caught dealing heroin just over a year after his release from prison.

This was despite being warned at his first sentencing by Judge Peter Thompson of the stiff penalties he would face if he continued to prey on drug users in the town.

Now, 28-year-old Ahmed is serving a second term behind bars for dealing, after being caught with 23 wraps of heroin worth £1,000.

He had pleaded guilty to possession of heroin on the basis that the court accepted his version that his dealer had thrust the drugs upon him before escaping capture but the Crown failed to believe that account and instead insisted he was the dealer.

A subsequent court hearing in June led to him being found guilty of intending to supply heroin.

During a sentencing hearing at Ipswich Crown Court last month, Judge Thompson sentenced him again and said: “On November 18, 2004 I sentenced you to three years. I have little doubt on that occasion I said to you, you needed to get clean of drugs and stay away from the drug culture…and frankly straight away you went back to it.”

DETECTIVE chief inspector Mark Jepson, the man in charge of Operation Academy, today applauded the tough sentences being handed out to drug dealers.

DCI Jepson also spoke of his officers' determination to keep up the blitz on the pushers from outside the county who peddle their wares in Ipswich.

The town's crime manager pledged to continue with the successes the nine-month operation has so far yielded.

DCI Jepson said: “We have made 199 arrests. We have also detained a further 38 people, 23 of those were from London.

“In addition we have recorded 11 offences, although not all drug-related.

“I think this shows we are trying to use the intelligence we are getting and targeting specific individuals and not abusing our search powers.

“Operation Academy is an operation that has been set up to target the threat of drug dealers from London working within the communities of Ipswich.

“We are employing a range of tactics and resources to identify and deal with these people. We know we are disrupting their activities, but know we still have a long way to go.

“When we take one dealer out, there is invariably somebody else to take their place.

“There will always be somebody who is either willingly, or coerced, into dealing for London dealers.

“We appreciate the sentencing is reflecting the serious threat that this type of drug dealing can pose.”

Police are at pains to point out that deals are typically done over mobile phones, with the dealer and user meeting up at a rendezvous for the drugs and payment to be handed over.

DCI Jepson stressed dealing is not going on openly on street corners across the town and community intelligence can also play its part in driving the out-of-town pushers away.

He said: “We are primarily dealing with a closed market and dealers are dealing to people who are customers of theirs as opposed to have control of open areas where anybody can score drugs.

“The numbers we have arrested suggest there's a fair chance of them getting caught.

“We are targeting individuals or locations with dedicated resources. As the Safer Neighbourhood Teams establish themselves, I'm confident we will get even better intelligence.

“These are not open drug markets. I think what Operation Academy reflects is what a safe place Ipswich is to live in.

“Drug dealers need to understand we have already arrested 199 people. If they have dealt drugs in the town once and have not been caught, it merely increases the threat that they will be caught.

“We are now reviewing Operation Academy to look at some of the other aims and objectives which include prevention, treatment and working with partners within the Safer Neighbourhood Teams to try to make it harder for people to deal.

“The community can play its part. If anyone sees anything suspicious in their area they should contact us through Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or our Operation Crackdown line on 0800 253253 or by reporting any anti-social behaviour which can be filed anonymously at Co-ops around Ipswich.”

N 194 grammes of heroin seized

N 582 wraps of heroin seized

N 122 wraps of crack cocaine seized

N 61.4 grammes of crack cocaine seized

N 43 wraps of cocaine seized

N 478 cannabis plants seized

N 14 large bags of cannabis seized

N A kilo of cannabis seized

N The street value of all the drugs seized to date £165,420

N £30,756 in cash has been seized

N No live firearms have been seized

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