‘Turf war’ gang members who sold drugs by Ilford station released from prison after serving half their sentence

Costa Coffee, Cranbrook Road.

Costa Coffee, Cranbrook Road. - Credit: Archant

Gang members who were involved in a” turf war” and sold drugs by Ilford Station have been released from prison.

Costa Coffee, Cranbrook Road.

Costa Coffee, Cranbrook Road. - Credit: Archant

In April 2016 the Recorder reported that rival gangs of Afghan and Somali descent were vying to control drug territories on Cranbrook Road.

The situation got so bad that business owners were worried about their safety and Costa Coffee employed its own security guard to protect the shop from being caught up in collateral damage and gang reprisals.

After months of police investigations and home raids, 11 dealers, aged between 18 and 29, were sentenced to a collective 28 years behind bars for numerous offences involving heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis, in March 2017.

Sgt Lee Wilkinson of Ilford Town Centre Police team, said the majority of the men are now back on the streets except some key members of the gang who are due to be released in the next few months.

All of those found guilty have been served with a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) which bans them from Ilford town centre for 10 years.

They could not be served with borough-wide bans as some of them live in Redbridge.

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“We want to reassure residents there is no need to worry - the CBO have been very effective,” he said.

“I have seen some of them, not in Ilford but in other parts of the borough, with one saying it’s a relief not to go into Ilford and he wants to get out of all the drugs.”

The sergeant said so far officers have not spotted any of the men outside the station and while some will steer clear there is a “decent chance” that some will get arrested again for breaching the order.

“We find they might try and breach it at first but then they get taken back to court and they realise it is serious and they can’t get away with it - they get the message,” he added.

“At the moment we have a number of CBOs - 20 are active in Ilford Town Centre at the moment with another one in the process of being granted.

“Only one has been broken recently and he has been arrested four times for it- We are definitely imposing them.”