Detectives from the Met’s Flying Squad have successfully closed down an organised crime group and removed five handguns from the streets of London and Essex.
Seven men were sentenced to more than 60 years’ imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, 27 January after they were convicted of conspiring to supply firearms and ammunition.
The operation to investigate the activities of the organised crime group (OCG) ran for ten weeks with several hundred policing hours spent on surveillance and arrest phases. Specialist officers took part in 12 armed deployments; this included Met armed surveillance officers with additional support from Essex Police’s Armed Response Units.
The court heard how Ngoo had a leading role in the overall criminal enterprise, dealing the weapons. He used Donkor to source the weapons and to agree the prices with customers.
Donkor was Ngoo’s main lieutenant and facilitator in the day to day running of the operation. He played a key role in the organisation, acting as a conduit between criminals wishing to buy and sell firearms and ammunition. Donkor oversaw all of the following firearms trades. He was paid a cut of the sale price of the guns in return for his involvement. His principal role was to be ‘hands on’ with the firearms during deals thereby allowing Ngoo to keep his distance from them if anything went wrong.
On 5 February 2021, John-Baptiste and Meade played significant roles in the supply of the .45 Smith & Wesson revolver at Sunnyhill Close in Hackney. John-Baptiste was the link between Donkor and the seller of the firearm, Meade. John-Baptiste was not present but was key in arranging the transaction between Mead and the buyer.
Yexley, Heal and Clarke-Chesaites were part of an Essex based OCG and on 16 February 2021 they were all present on Endeavour Way in Basildon. Here they played a significant role in the sale of a .32 semi-automatic Webley pistol and 18 rounds of ammunition to a buyer.
Heal acted as armourer for the OCG. He had the knowledge and necessary tools and component parts at his home address to convert imitation firearms into functioning weapons and to manufacture live ammunition. Police found a viable handgun and ammunition during a search of his work locker at an industrial unit on Endeavour Way.
On 23 February 2021, Met armed officers intervened and arrested Donkor and Ngoo in Grays, Essex.
Detective Superintendent Simon Moring, from Central Specialist Crime, said: “This is an excellent example of collaborative working between the Met, Essex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. The convictions and removal of these firearms from circulation shows the continued aim of the Met to protect the public from harm.
“The Met is committed to tackling and reducing violent crime. Part of this involves relying on our communities to come forward with any information they have about anyone who may be carrying a weapon.”
Two of the group were found guilty following a four-week trial at the same court on 5 November 2021. They were:
Daniel Ngoo, 30 (23.05.91) from the Newham area was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment for conspiring to sell prohibited weapons and ammunition.
Stephen Donkor, 45 (07.06.76) of Seally Road, Grays, Essex was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for conspiring to sell prohibited weapons and ammunition.
The following five men pleaded guilty on 3 June 2021 at the same court, they are:
Malacai Yexley, 26 (24.08.95) from Langdon Hills, Basildon was sentenced to six-and-a-half years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to selling a prohibited weapon, a .32 calibre pistol and 18 rounds of matching ammunition.
David Heal, 57 (25.05.64) from Southend, Essex was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to selling a prohibited weapon, a .32 calibre pistol and 18 rounds of matching ammunition and possessing a prohibited weapon, a .22 calibre pistol and matching ammunition.
George Clark-Chesaites, 33 (21.06.88) of Laindon, Basildon was sentenced to six-and-a-half years’ imprisonment after selling a prohibited weapon, a .32 calibre pistol and 18 rounds of matching ammunition.
Aaron John-Baptiste, 33 (05.07.88) of Hitchin, Hertfordshire was sentenced to five years and three months’ imprisonment after selling a prohibited weapon, a .45 calibre revolver on 5 February 2021.
Damian Meade, 34 (06.06.87) from Bow, London was sentenced to five years and four months’ imprisonment after selling a prohibited weapon, a .45 calibre revolver on 5 February 2021.
41 firearms including an Uzi submachine gun have been seized and 24 arrested in a major blitz against underworld armourers.
Hundreds of Metropolitan Police officers were involved in a series of dawn raids across London and Essex over 12 days in 2021.
Police marksmen also carried out “hard stops” on suspects’ cars in covert operations launched to prevent gun crime surging again when Covid restrictions are eased.
The deactivated Uzi, once capable of firing up to 600 rounds a minute, a sawn-off pump action shotgun and a converted Retay Glock 17 self-loading pistol were among 27 firearms seized between February 7 and 14.
Police also recovered 430 rounds of ammunition, cocaine and six zombie knives.
All firearms will now undergo forensic tests to see if they are linked to unsolved shootings and murders across Britain’s 43 police forces.
Mr Turner added: “This is pre-planning for when we come out of lockdown.
“Obviously, from what we saw last time there was a slight increase in gun crime.
“But we are working across the country and at borders to stop the flow of firearms into London, delivering a massive dent to organised criminals.
“Each of the weapons seized in the past week could have been used to inflict serious harm, and I am grateful for the hard work, proactivity and tenacity of officers in keeping Londoners safe.