A SPECIALIST police squad has been applauded for taking cocaine and heroin off the streets of south Essex.

After the latest dealer was jailed, this one with 100 wraps of class A drugs, Chief Insp Neil Pudney praised the huge difference Op Raptor teams are making in the fight against drugs.

Basildon Standard:

Abdimajid Mohamed 

Basildon Standard:

Caught - Samantha Earp

On Tuesday, Thomas Gibson, of Devereux Road, Westcliff, was jailed for three years.

Gibson, 52, was found with 49 wraps of heroin and 55 of crack cocaine by operation raptor officers.

The drugs had a street value of more than £1,000.

Chief Insp Pudney, the district commander for Southend, used the sentencing as an opportunity to praise the proactive policing in Southend, which relies on units like Op Raptor working closely with officers in Southend, and their partners such as South Essex Homes.

Mr Pudney said: “I think they are one of many proactive teams we have in Southend that are effectively tackling crime.

“Raptor are now embedded within and have a base at the community safety centre, and they work with us and our partners which gives them the opportunity to take drugs off the streets and protect the vulnerable with closure orders and the like.

“Raptor are working closely with the reflex team in the town centre, and we are regularly sharing information and keeping each other informed, and we are providing a real proactive element throughout the way we police Southend.

“Its about different teams working as one and having the ability to proactively target issues that are arising. Hopefully it will continue to pay dividends in the community.”

Operation Raptor work has seen a host of criminals jailed in the last month alone.

In April, Thomas Symons, 25, of Scocles Road, Minster-on-Sea, admitted being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs after officers spotted him acting suspiciously as they prepared to carry out a warrant in Pitsea.

He was jailed for two years and eight months.

Just days later, a woman from Leeds who hit a hunting knife in her handbag in Southend was sentenced to two years and two months in prison.

Samantha Earp, 22, of Amberton Garden, Leeds was stopped in a Ford Ka on Chancellor Road, Southend, by the Op Raptor South team.

She had 20 wraps of heroin in her underwear.

On May 3, three men found at a flat in Wilkinson Drop, South Benfleet by operation officers with herbal cannabis and 40 wraps of Class A drugs faced the courts.

Sadiq Ali, 23, of St Thomas Road, Southgate, London, admitted two counts of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply and was jailed for 32 months.

Abdimajid Mohamed, 20, of Browing Street, London, was jailed for two years and ten months after admitting being involved in the supply of class A drugs.

Daniel Seymour, 40, of Rooks Crescent, Chelmsford, was charged with possession of a class B and class C drug, pleaded guilty and was fined £110.

Op Raptor teams were set up to specifically target drug and gang related activity particularly after gangs spread out from the capital and the recruitment of young people with “county lines” became a wider problem.

Following the sentencing of Gibson on Tuesday, a spokesman for the South Operation Raptor team said: “There is absolutely no doubt that Gibson was actively involved in the supply of Class A drugs.

“He was found with a significant amount of Class A drugs including crack cocaine with a purity of 76 per cent, which is extremely strong and undoubtedly could have a significant impact on those taking it.

“Fortunately those drugs are now off of our streets and Gibson is behind bars where he belongs.”

Anyone with information about drug or gang-related crime can contact Essex Police on 101.

Basildon Standard:

Locked up - Thomas Gibson

Basildon Standard:

Jailed - Thomas Symons