How 'first class detective work' helped round up members of Ipswich gang
PUBLISHED: 07:33 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 07:34 18 December 2019
Members of an organised Ipswich crime group have been locked away for a string of crimes involving violence, weapons and drug dealing.
Police believe an important strand of the 'Neno' gang has been put out of commission - but admit challenges remain to prevent a new generation from emerging.
Abbas Uddin was regarded a significant player in the drug supply conspiracy.
He represented a focal point for much of the work carried out to expose the gang - linked to a series of crimes, including a knifepoint robbery in Wickham Market and a drug related firearms incident in Leiston.
Police sifted through stacks of data connected to the main Neno phone line, which was seized from Uddin and shut down through legislation utilised by Suffolk's Serious Crime Disruption Team, but then reactivated by other members three days later.
Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said mapping the data was vital in exposing a group of individuals involved in crimes committed to feed the same conspiracy.
"This is the epitome of first class detective work in the current age," he added.
"It involved piecing together data and forensics to help remove these people from society.
"There are now houses no longer inhabited by individuals central to this type of activity.
"Running through all this was a drug trafficking business utilising a phone number we saw disrupted and rekindled at least once.
"The telephone disruption order created a period when Neno had to re-establish themselves, and led to a sequence of enforcement.
"It appeared Uddin was a significant member with control over others. When not available, others stepped into that role.
"When he was found with a mobile phone in prison, from an investigation point-of-view, it was a strong find. Even when not there, he was still clearly able to influence the rest of the gang."
MORE: Members of Ipswich 'Neno' drug gang sentenced to a total of more than 72 years
Against the backdrop of a demand-fuelled drugs trade, gang members also used the internet to taunt rivals and boast about criminal activity.
Det Ch Supt Bridger said social media and 'drill music' videos were used to inflame rivalries.
"The fuelling of the drug trade behind those rivalries raises the stakes significantly," he added.
"It goes beyond young men feeling an affiliation with an area when those at national level are upping the ante to further their business.
"Our staff are qualified, with credible experience, to be familiar with this material - and officers have the ability to explain it to a jury, who are then able to make reasonable conclusions."
Det Ch Supt Bridger said there was a balance to be struck in publishing the videos without glorifying their content.
"It's important for people to be exposed to it, understand it, and be empowered to intervene - which no public agency can do as effectively as a parent," he added.
"It's not necessarily down to policing, but communities starting to take back control.
"They have been supportive in the level of information coming forward to assist us - and in the way these individuals have been ostracised.
"It's worrying that information clearly suggested they were looking to recruit younger people.
"That creates a challenge - to make sure that void isn't filled by the next generation.
"We rely heavily on intelligence, which can take time to gather and ensure it has the biggest impact."
While today's sentencing marks a victory for the force, Det Ch Supt Bridger acknowledges the wider threat posed by the international drugs trade.
"Here we have a group of individuals with control in their community, but relatively insignificant influence over the industry as a whole," he said.
"Invariably, there will be people importing drugs into the country.
"We need to deal with the tier associated with violence locally, as well as those making huge amounts of money nationally, while working hard to stop these commodities coming into the UK.
"As long as there is demand for drugs, we fully expect there will be someone trying to supply it.
"Determined criminals will evolve and adjust.
"We don't just want to focus on lower level street dealers.
"We want to be going after the people carrying guns and enforcing debts, but we need capacity in the organisation to do so.
"Bringing in other agencies could have more impact on the demand side.
"Our hope is that services will be developed - with the right investment - to be effective."