Southend drugs line dismantled and members sentenced

A longstanding operation bringing crack cocaine and heroin to the streets of Southend has been dismantled by drugs officers.

Op Raptor South carefully built a case against the ‘Drops’ line – which ran Class A drugs from London to south Essex – resulting in charges against five people.

Gagandeep Sehmi, 23, the main line holder responsible for directing the runners on the street, was jailed at Basildon Crown Court on Friday March 8.

Four offenders identified as drug runners, Lisa Samuels, 38, Michael Webb, 35, Jay Brown, 35, and Abdullah Kahn, 22, have also faced sentence.

The investigation identified seven iterations of the drug line, using pre-paid SIM cards in burner phones to send out hundreds of bulk marketing messages to users in Southend.

During a two-week period, 645 bulk messages advertising drugs to users were sent out by the line.

The line was active between September 2022 and April last year, when officers carried out coordinated strikes at addresses linked to members of the operation.

Sehmi was identified as the line holder after officers trawled through CCTV, conducted two vehicle stops and analysed mobile phones used by those involved in the operation.

Officers then executed warrants at addresses linked to the defendants in London and Southend, in April last year.

Sehmi was arrested at his address and six packs of crack cocaine and heroin, prepared for sale on the streets in wraps, were found in a rucksack in his bedroom.

There were an estimated 600 wraps, with a potential street value of around £6,000.

Police also seized a drug line phone and more than £3,500 in cash.

Samuels and Webb were arrested at their home address, with drug paraphernalia and mobile phones seized.

Kahn was also arrested at this address and found with more than £590 in cash.

Brown was arrested at his home address, along with a drug line phone.

All five were charged with and admitted being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine and heroin.

Samuels, of Coleman Street, Southend, was the first to be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court in December last year.

Judge Ian Graham accepted she had become embroiled in the operation due to her own drug use and that she acted under the direction of others.

She was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, with conditions attached to complete a drug rehabilitation programme and mental health treatment.

Kahn, of Kilmartin Road, Ilford, appeared at the same court in February, where he was jailed for 18 months.

Sehmi, Webb and Brown appeared for sentence on Friday March 8.

Sehmi, of Aberdour Road, Ilford, was jailed for six years, while Webb, of Coleman Street, Southend, was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with a condition to complete a 60-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Brown, of Whitegate Road, Southend, was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with conditions to complete a 40-day rehabilitation activity requirement and carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

Their sentences were passed down during County Lines Intensification Week – a week-long national crackdown and focus on drug dealing gangs.

Detective Sergeant Rob Maile, of Op Raptor South, said: “Friday’s sentencing hearing marks the final step in shutting down this longstanding drug line operating in Southend and will be a welcome result for the community.”