Drug dealer suspect pops head out of window and tells Met Police something bizarre in raid

By Staff

Moments after he is jolted awake by a phalanx of police officers, a suspected drug dealer pops his head out the window and shouts something into the night. It is a strange moment, and briefly one of jeopardy for our police escort Rob, a sergeant with the Met Police, who is on alert for suspects leaping from buildings and trying to flee on foot. “It can happen,” he tells me.

For County Lines intensification week, MyLondon was invited to a raid on one of six addresses around East London, where entry teams made six arrests for Class A drugs supply, and seized MDMA, ketamine powder, and £7,000 in cash. We can’t tell you exactly where in Romford we were, for legal reasons, but it was a very normal looking end-of-terrace house.

I’m up early with Rob, who zips up an unremarkable rain jacket over his white stab vest, jumps in the unmarked car, then explains the brief. He shows me a photo of a man who is suspected of holding drugs at a stash house. Cocaine, crack, and heroin – the sort of Class A drugs Operation Orochi is concerned with – could all be at the stash house, Rob says, and now it’s time to hit it.

READ MORE: ‘Armed police smashed our café looking for hostages – we did nothing wrong but it’s ruined our reputation’

After months of ‘police work’ – a shady term for things the police don’t really like to explain – there was already enough evidence for the court ordered warrant and drugs supply charges. But as we set off in ‘The Stick’ – police slang for the long line of meat wagons and unmarked cars heading towards their targets – Rob is hoping to find some Class As.

As we roll onto the main road, Rob confirms police will use the ‘enforcer’ entry method – also known as the ‘big red key’. Rob describes it best with the sound of three tonnes of force hitting a door. ‘Bosh’, he grunts.

When I ask if there are any other entry methods, Rob begins to laugh. “We have got to have some secrets or we will never get anything done,” he says.

Soon enough the car stops, we get out, and I follow the sound of a dozen rubber soles grinding down the pavement. There’s a pause as one policeman pulls back the enforcer. A crunch follows. But unlike the last time I watched the ‘big red key’ smash a door straight off its hinges, this door requires four shots before the officers push it open by hand and trickle inside.

‘Police, stay where you are’, shout the police. Then a man, whose face was in the photo used by police, pokes his head from the bedroom window and looks down at the blob of helmets outside his door. ‘Be quiet’ he shouts. He’s got an air of someone who’s been here before. He also seems genuinely annoyed at the entry method, as if to say ‘You could have knocked first’.

“He’s got a point,” I think, coming from a non-organised crime background. “What would the neighbours think?” Suddenly the man pulls his head back inside the house. Moments later, shadows begin to flash behind the sheer net curtains as he is given his caution by an officer.

A neighbour swings her window open and sneaks a look. Later, after the suspect is led handcuffed into a police van, one of the officers recalls his unflappable reaction: “He was in his clothes pretty sharpish.”

Rob is less relaxed and paces between the street corner and a huddle of plain clothes officers just out of earshot. “Where’s the gear?” he mutters to himself, now standing next to me. He tells me just yesterday his team bust open safes with two kilos of cocaine and £46,000 in cash. Today there are two joints and a tin of magic mushroom seeds.

“They haven’t looked upstairs yet,” Rob says. It’s annoying for him, but later, in a more reflective mood, he strolls back over and says it can all be down to ‘lady luck’. By this point the entry team don’t seem bothered.

The sniffer dogs hunt for hidden drugs and weapons, but neither surface while we are there. After that, it’s the turn of a ‘digi-dog’, trained to sniff out trap phones (and paedophile hard drives). After some more waiting, Rob says there’s finally some success and they have found three mobile phones.

As we drive home, Rob tells me one of the suspect’s phones was found in the attic. I ask if the location raises any eyebrows and he gives a nod. But he says most dealers won’t give up their passcodes, and, even with the latest hacking technology, it can still take eight months to unlock them. On some phones this might give criminals enough time to wipe the data remotely.

Sometimes police are lucky though, and they catch the dealer with the phone open. With the right combination of messages and location data, this can end with a whole criminal gang sat at the back of the court.

If you are concerned about drug-related crime in your area or think someone may be a victim of drug exploitation, please call 101 or 999 in an emergency.

If you would like to provide information anonymously, call the independent charity CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org. Young people can give information 100% anonymously by contacting the charity Fearless at www.fearless.org.

No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court or have to speak to police.

Useful links

How to stop a loved one becoming a victim – the Met Police website.

The Look Closer campaign – The Children’s Society website.

Jobs, criminal justice, and child exploitation – the Catch22 website.

A MOPAC funded service that supports young people – the Rescue and Response website.

‘Visible misery’

Speaking after a week of county line disruption, Detective Superintended Kirsty Mead said: “County lines is much more than drug dealing. It causes real, visible misery to young people and vulnerable adults, and completely destroys communities.

“The Met Police are committed to tackling county lines and our efforts remain ongoing day in, day out, and the week of intensification is only an extension of that work.

“However, we cannot do this alone. By working closely with parents, schools, local authorities, the Government, the transport and the health sectors, we can bring everyone together and dismantle this devastating distribution model, making London safer for everyone.”

County lines intensification week ended with:

  • 210 vulnerable people safeguarded
  • 95 county lines shut down
  • 294 arrests made
  • 141 people charged for a total of 341 charges
  • 11kg of Class A drugs seized
  • 16.2kg of Class B drugs seized
  • Nine firearms including glocks, revolvers and a handgun – and six imitation firearms seized
  • 75 weapons including zombie knives, machetes and swords seized
  • £452,554 in cash seized
  • 14 vehicles seized

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