How a Police Callout uncovered a Drugs Network worth Millions

A routine police callout to a gunshot in London sparked a three year investigation that uncovered a “huge” drugs network.

How a Police Callout uncovered a Drugs Network worth Millions f

"There was competition between the lines"

An organised crime group that operated a huge drugs network has been jailed for a total of over 220 years.

The network was uncovered following a routine callout to shotgun fire in Shadwell, East London in June 2020.

The Shadwell area, whose main artery is named after the hemp cables once twisted and sold to ships between London Bridge and Wapping, has a longstanding history as a hub for the supply of cannabis products.

Despite its historical significance, it remains one of the most impoverished areas in London.

Whitechapel is currently grappling with a drug crisis, with the streets marred by the unfortunate sight of rough sleepers, and support services claiming to be on the verge of collapse.

For the predominant Bengali community, who sought refuge from persecution to reside near the gleaming financial cathedrals of Canary Wharf, economic prosperity is tantalisingly close but challenging to attain.

As Judge Sandy Canavan sentenced the last group of 42 drug dealers, caught as part of Operation Babaco, she reminded them “the vast majority of the Bengali community in Tower Hamlets are law-abiding”.

She added: “All of you were doing this because there was easy money to be made.”

Detective Inspector Damina Hill said a “conservative” estimate was 31 kilograms of cocaine and 40 kilograms of cannabis, with a street value of over £3 million.

DC Megan Bushell spent three years bringing down the drugs network, which spanned London to Brighton to Hampshire.

The shotgun fire led to two arrests and multiple phones seized.

But in March 2021, analysts managed to access the phones and uncovered evidence of a massive drugs conspiracy.

Police found several WhatsApp groups running 14 drug lines, with dealers competing to outsell each other.

The group sold drugs from “old run around” posing as fake taxis, with dealers and addicts driving the vehicles, while other dealers ran the drugs line from the back seat.

The group also sold their cars every few weeks.

DI Hill said: “We have seen it before but not on the scale of this operation. It was the specific MO that was used by this group.”

Mobile phone analysis, cross-referencing databases and cooperation with local police teams meant taking down the network was largely a “desk job”.

The drug operation ran like an actual business, with lower-level members reporting their sales to a bookkeeper and even claiming expenses for petrol and lunch.

How a Police Callout uncovered a Drugs Network worth Millions

Police also noticed the WhatsApp chats unveiled competition.

DI Hill continued: “There was competition between the lines… They would report back the figures and boast about who had the best turnover that day, like a sales team.”

But as the final 18 men were sentenced, Judge Canavan recalled how the group abused poverty in the area, taking over a mother’s flat to use as a safehouse despite her complaints about “the state of her home and risk to her children”.

Leveraging intelligence gathered by officers from Hackney and Tower Hamlets, Specialist Crime enlisted the assistance of local police officers once more.

The coordinated effort resulted in the execution of 49 search warrants, leading to 42 arrests and the filing of 42 charges related to drug supply offences.

Additionally, authorities confiscated £54,000 worth of jewellery, £200,000 in cash and drugs valued at £83,000.

Looking back on the three-year investigation, DI Hill said:

“The scale on this is huge. The sheer amount of subjects is significant. It takes a substantial amount of investigation.”

He also heaped praise on his colleague DC Bushell, whose “encyclopaedic knowledge” of the investigation was formally commended by the court.

In total, the group was jailed for over 220 years while some drug users who were recruited into the operation were diverted to drug services.

As Judge Canavan sent the last of the group down, she told them:

“I do not accept the mere fact that someone grows up on an estate in the East End means they will become involved in criminality.

“Nor do I accept being a young Bengali man means you will become a drug dealer.”

The Sentences

  • Monsur Ali, aged 32, of Tower Hamlets – 17 years
  • Mohammed Mohsin Khan, aged 31, of Barking and Dagenham – 15 years three months
  • Sadek Rahman, aged 31, of Barking – 14 years three months
  • Afruz Miah, aged 41, of Ilford – 13 years six months
  • Shamadul Islam, aged 29, of Mile End – 12 years six months
  • Mahmadul Hassan, aged 28, of Tower Hamlets – 19 years six months
  • Mohammed Ali, aged 30, of Tower Hamlets – 12 years
  • Mohammed Aminul Hoque, aged 30, of Limehouse – nine years three months
  • Shumel Ahmed, aged 29, of Bow – six years four months
  • Mohammed Jakaria, aged 27, of Poplar – seven years six months
  • Mohammed Kifayat, aged 29, of Tower Hamlets – nine years
  • Iqbal Miah, aged 28, of Bow – five years six months
  • Shahinur Rahman, aged 28, of Tower Hamlets – seven years three months
  • Shahadour Rahman, aged 23, of Tower Hamlets – six years
  • Shakir Uddin, aged 23, of Tower Hamlets – three years four months
  • Koyaz Hussain, aged 22, of Southend-on-Sea – 300 hours unpaid work
  • Abdul Saleh, aged 28, of Bow – three years 11 months
  • Imthiaz Islam, aged 27, of Limehouse – six years


Dhiren is a News & Content Editor who loves all things football. He also has a passion for gaming and watching films. His motto is to "Live life one day at a time".




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