Three jailed after attack in Southend

Three drug dealers – including two brothers – have been jailed for a combined 29 years after a violent attack in Southend.

Police responded to an incident shortly before 4.25am on October 11 2022 following reports of a disturbance in York Road where a teenage boy sustained serious injuries.

He was taken to hospital in a critical condition but has since recovered.

A second teenager was taken to hospital with injuries to his legs. He too has, recovered.

Detectives and staff from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate then began piecing together the moments which led up to the incident.

They were able to identify that a violent incident had taken place between two groups, one of which was in charge of a large cannabis grow which had been put in place in a property.

In total, that grow included more than 100 plants at various stages of growth.

During the confrontation between the two groups, the two young victims attempted to flee the area. At that stage, brothers Aurel and Xheni Ukcenaj and Elton Vata, who were all part of an organised crime group, got into a Ford Focus car which was then used to violently injure both victims.

One of the victims was also stabbed three times by Aurel Ukcenaj whilst lying on the ground.

Investigators were able to identify a number of people involved in organised crime who they believed to be involved and a number of arrests were made in the coming days across south Essex and London.

Aurel Ukcenaj, 32, of Marischal Road, London, SE13, Xheni Ukcenaj, 27, of Chase Side, Enfield were charged with attempted murder and production of cannabis and Elton Vata, 34, of West Road, Westcliff, was charged with production of cannabis.

A trial had been due to begin on Tuesday November 7, at Basildon Crown Court, but all three men entered pleas which were accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Both brothers admitted GBH with intent and production of cannabis and Vata admitted production of cannabis.

They were sentenced at the same court today.

Xheni Ukcenaj was sentenced to 15 years in prison He will have to serve ten years before he becomes eligible for release.

Aurel Ukcenaj was sentenced to 12 years in prison and will serve eight years befor he is eligible for release.

Elton Vata was handed 26 months in jail and will be deported when his sentence finishes.

Detective Inspector Lydia George who led the investigation, said: “The Ukcenaj brothers are plainly involved in organised crime and in setting up a cannabis grow in York Road, Southend. They had allocated Vata as the man responsible for that grow.

“When this incident began, the immediate response from the Ukcenaj brothers was one of extreme violence. Vata was with them while they carried that out.

Two young victims were left with extremely serious injuries, and it is only through the work of medical professionals that they have been able to recover.”

She added: “This case shows the extremely dangerous nature of being involved in the supply of any illicit drugs. The harm which is caused through the cultivation and supply of illegal drugs should never be underestimated.

“The groups which are involved in this are intimidating, reckless and ruthless. They prey upon vulnerable people and children and it is often those vulnerable people and children who end up as victims of serious violence.”