A man has been jailed after he was found to be involved in drug trade across West Essex.

Sonny Ali-Malpeli, 22, of Cornwall Place in Waltham Abbey, was caught after an “extensive investigation” by Essex Police involving analysis of text messages linked to a KASH drug line.

Specialist officers from their Operation Raptor team discovered that Ali-Malpeli collected Class A drugs from Enfield and sold it to users in Harlow and Waltham Abbey.

On 12 April, they executed warrants at six addresses in Chingford and Waltham Abbey and made a number of arrests.

Ali-Malpeli, and his co-accused Lisa Gilbey of Acorn Close in Chingford, were among the arrested people. Officers seized several items, including drugs, weapons, a drug-line phone and a machete from his home during the raid.

He later confessed while in police custody that he “always carried a large knife for protection” whenever he left home.

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An address in Waltham Abbey was also identified by the police as being the home of a Class A drug user. Officers believed that the KASH drug line used the place “as a base” to supply drugs- a practice they call as “cuckooing”.

Ali-Malpeli and 46-year-old Gilbey admitted to two counts of being concerned in the supply of a Class A drug. He appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday (September 20) where he was sentenced to 31 months in prison.

Judges were told during the hearing that Ali-Malpeli got involved in drug dealing due to a drug debt. The judge however said that he had “no doubt” that Ali-Malpeli was also motivated by financial gains.

Gilbey is also due to be sentenced at a later date, while two other defendants arrested as part of the investigation remain on bail. They are expected to face a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court on January 22.

DC Emily Larkin, of the Operation Raptor Harlow team said in a statement that their officers’ proactive work has taken “another dealer off the streets”. The warrants, she said, were executed after reports of “an influx of drugs” in parts of West Essex.

She urged drug users and traders to “get out of a dangerous lifestyle” and offered support to those wishing to seek help.

Drug supply, she added, “often brings with it exploitation”, “grooming of vulnerable people” and violence.

She said: “Protecting those at risk of being used by gangs is central to our work and these seizures have seen the removal of a number of drugs and dangerous weapons from our streets.”