Ilford station gang sold drugs from coffee shop, jury hears

Ilford Station.

Ilford Station. - Credit: Archant

A gang spent six months brazenly selling drugs “in broad daylight” from Costa Coffee opposite Ilford station, a court has heard.

Speaking at the trial of six men charged with conspiring to supply heroin, cocaine and cannabis at Blackfriars Crown Court, prosecutor Martyn Bowyer claimed the defendants were shockingly obvious.

He said: “These men were involved in blatant, open drug dealing, quite literally on some occasions in broad daylight.”

The court heard on Tuesday how the group of Albanian and Afghan men used the Costa Coffee in Cranbrook Road as “an ideal location” to sell drugs.

Mr Bowyer outlined a system that saw the gang refer would-be customers to different members and lead them away from the busy cafe before handing over heroin, cocaine or cannabis.

Bikes were often used, Mr Bowyer told the court, to quickly travel to an unseen area to pick up the drugs while the buyer was asked to wait nearby.

The defendants deny the charges, with some claiming they were bystanders as drugs were sold.

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Det Con Nicholas Barr told the court that the British Transport Police (BTP) had been investigating drug dealers at the station since March, when reports of disorder in the area massively increased.

As the jury was shown hundreds of surveillance photographs taken in the early stages of the investigation, Mr Bowyer drew attention to a number dated March 22.

These appeared to show some of the defendants, one of whom was allegedly holding a lead pipe, engaging in a brawl with a number of men. This, Mr Bowyer claimed, was proof of a “turf war” between the Albanian defendants and a gang of Somalian drug dealers they had successfully “run off” in the early days of their drug ring.

Mr Bowyer told the jury: “This is evidence of a concerted and combined effort by all of those involved to protect and help out one another.”

Investigators have been unable to identify who was supplying the alleged gang with the drugs.

The trial continues.