Drug dealers have been sentenced for a total of more than seven and a half years as part of a police crackdown on the supply of the drug Spice in Westminster.
The seven men and one woman have been sentenced over a three week period, with the last handed an eight month prison sentence on Tuesday (August 8).
The defendants have also received Community Banning Orders (CBOs), prohibiting them from entering parts of the borough , totalling 35 years.
Spice is a synthetic cannaboid which is classed as a Class B drug and can cause severe psychotic episodes, distressing hallucinations, vomiting and seizures.
It has withdrawal effects more severe than heroin and crack cocaine and has seen a huge surge in the number of users among the homeless community in Westminster.
Acting on intelligence, officers from Westminster launched Operation Spatha on March 7 to tackle the supply of the Class B drug.
This has been running alongside Westminster’s ongoing Operation Kaskara - a multi-agency operation aimed at tackling spice on the streets of Westminster.
During the arrest phase of the operation on June 27, officers targeted drug dealers who mainly operate in the Charing Cross area, supplying spice predominately to people that are homeless.
Officers executed search warrants at addresses in Lambeth, Ilford, Westminster and Dagenham.
Westminster’s Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling said: “Spice wreaks havoc on users and causes great concern within the community.
"The substance has become prevalent within the homeless community where dealers prey on some of the most vulnerable within our society.
"Officers felt passionately about tackling the dealing of spice.
“The operation was hugely successful."
He said the conviction of the dealers and the sentences handed down reflects the "seriousness of the offence" and "the commitment of officers in Westminster to protect the community".
“Spice is a vile substance that robs the user of all awareness and dignity and is highly addictive," he added.
"The tactic utilised was the first of its kind be used nationally and we remain committed to protecting the vulnerable from this drug and those that would place the users and wider community in harm’s way.”
Augusto Limba, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply a Class B drug and handed an eight months’ imprisonment, a 12-month supervision order and a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday (August 8).
On Friday (August 4) Harry Read, of no fixed address, was sentenced at the same court for one count of supplying spice, receiving a nine month suspended sentence, 250-hour community service order and a two-year CBO.
The following defendants were sentenced on July 26 at Southwark Crown Court after admitting charges at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on June 28.
- Anthony White, 37, of Plane Tree Walk, Gypsy Hill: 16 months prison sentence after pleading guilty to seven counts of conspiracy to supplying spice. A five-year CBO was granted.
- Ramzi Barkat, 45, of Third Avenue, Romford: 12 months prison sentence after pleading guilty to six counts of conspiracy to supply spice. A five-year CBO was granted.
- Miguel Chaves, 40, St Albans Road, Ilford: 12 months prison sentence after pleading guilty to four counts of conspiracy to supply spice. A five-year CBO was granted.
- Patrick Etiele, 32, of no fixed address: Sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to four counts of conspiracy to supply spice. A five-year CBO was granted.
- Mark Akhimie, 48, of no fixed address: 12 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply spice. A five-year CBO was granted.
- Keziah Watson, 19, of no fixed address: Sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to nine counts of conspiracy to supply spice. She was also ordered to 30 hours at an attendance centre. A three-year CBO was granted ordering.
Dimitri Ofosu, 29 and from Mayall Road, and Ashraf Benyunis, of no fixed address and 24, have previously pleaded guilty to supplying Spice and are due to be sentenced later this month.
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