DRUG dealers have been locked up for a combined total of 100 years with police taking almost a quarter of a million pounds worth of Class A drugs off the streets.
And Sergeant James Blackmore who leads the special drugs squad, set up to target gangs in Oxford following a spate of stabbings and gang activity, said: “The message we are sending out is you won’t get away with it in Oxford.”
Launched in 2012, Operation Bilbo was the first of its kind in the city focusing on crack cocaine and heroin dealers and investigating tip-offs from the public.
It was initially set up for six months with one sergeant and four PCs but was so successful it was extended and is now a permanent team at Oxford’s St Aldates station.
And it has now hit the target of locking up 41 Class A drug dealers for a combined total of 100 years.
In 2013 a total of 65 suspected Oxford drug dealers were charged – up 44 per cent on the 45 charged in 2011 before Operation Bilbo was launched – with 44 of those already convicted.
And since last April police had seized nearly £42,000 in drug money – almost as much as the £47,398 seized in the whole of the previous financial year.
Sgt Blackmore said drug dealing was linked to burglary and robbery rates as addicts usually stole to feed their habits.
He said: “About 99 per cent of our burglars are Class A drug addicts.
“That is the pure reason they burgle houses – to get money for their drug fix. So if we can reduce their supply they won’t burgle houses.”
But he said there would always be work for the drugs team, adding: “There is always going to be drugs because there will always be people willing to buy drugs.
“We are not naive enough to think we can get rid of the drugs flow but what we can do is make sure we contain the flow and arrest, charge, convict and put dealers in prison.”
Sgt Blackmore said about 50 per cent of dealers were coming in from outside of the city.
And he said: “We fully expect them to continue to come as there is a lot of money to be made in drug dealing and people are willing to take the risk and see if they can get away with it.”
After Operation Bilbo was launched household burglary fell by 24 per cent in Oxford – from 846 crimes between April 2011 and March 2012 to 644 between April last year and March this year.
Personal robbery has fallen 16 per cent – from 159 to 134 in the same period.
Superintendent Christian Bunt, Oxford area commander, praised the work of the team.
He said: “It is certainly a team I am hoping to keep together for a long time.”
Drug dealers put before the courts this year include:
- David Thomas
ESSEX man David Thomas was jailed in December for two-and-a-half years after he travelled to Oxford to deal cocaine and heroin.
His sentence brought the Operation Bilbo team’s total jail sentences over the 100-year target.
Thomas, of Teviot Avenue, Aveley, Essex, was arrested in St Aldate’s on October 17 as he ran from police.
The 37-year-old was found to be carrying 43 wraps of crack cocaine and 20 wraps of heroin, both Class A drugs, together with around £860.
He also had two mobile phones and £100 in cash.
- Sammy Gitaua
COWLEY man Sammy Gitaua was jailed for three years and nine months after he was found with heroin. Gitaua, of Beauchamp Place, was convicted of possessing Class A drugs with intent in October after a trial at Oxford Crown Court.
Police searched the 26-year-old’s home in January and found two deals of heroin and about £1,800.
- Abdul Banaras
CRACK and heroin dealer Abdul Banaras is serving a two-and-a-half year prison sentence for dealing drugs in the city.
The 27-year-old was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court in October after admitting two counts of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply. Banaras, of Clark’s Row, Oxford was arrested in the city in August.
- Theodore Tyrell
TYRELL has been jailed for four years for dealing crack cocaine in Oxford.
The 22-year-old was found guilty of possessing £380 of the Class A drug with intent to supply and was sentenced on December 19.
Tyrell, of Barns Road, Littlemore, claimed police planted the drugs on him but he was convicted at Oxford Crown Court following a three-day trial.
2011: 45 charges of possession with intent to supply drugs
2012: (Op Bilbo started March) 64 charges of possession with intent to supply drugs
2013: So far 65 charges of possession with intent to supply drugs
CASH seized from dealers:
2011/12: Four cash seizures worth a total of £10,561 and two forfeiture orders totalling £4,560
2012/13: Six cash seizures worth a total of £47,398 and six forfeiture orders totalling £10,643
2013 to date: Ten cash seizures worth a total of £41,837 and eight forfeiture orders totalling £18,668