Notorious Hackney gangs smashed - 31 jailed after undercover police op

A group of 31 people connected to two notorious Hackney gangs have been jailed for a combined total of more than 71 years, after a police sting operation.

The gang members appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court between March 19 and March 23 following an undercover initiative designed to take down the two groups known locally as the ‘Pembury Boys’ and the ‘Balance Boys Gang’.

Codenamed Operation Chalais, the meticulously-planned initiative saw undercover officers infiltrate the gangs over an 18 month period. The action followed intelligence suggesting serious youth violence was increasing in and around Hackney.

The operation saw Met officers join forces with Hackney Council to launch a mock fashion business in the borough. The business enabled undercover officers to gain the trust of some of Hackney’s most violent individuals and gather information about local drug dealers and notorious gang members.

Several gang members were directly identified as a result, and officers were also able to recover weapons, including a Sterling machine gun with ammunition from a playground on the Pembury Estate in Lower Clapton.

The operation culminated in dawn raids across east London and 32 search warrants were executed last August. More than 300 officers were involved from units across the Met, including the Territorial Support Group and Specialist Crime Directorate officers.

Hackney’ Acting Borough Commander, Supt Rob Jones, said: “These sentencing results, which are the culmination of 18-months’ work, will play an important part in further reducing gang-related crime in Hackney.”

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He thanked the 300 officers involved, and Hackney Council.

Cllr Sophie Linden, cabinet member for crime, said: “The strong action taken by council officers and police during Operation Chalais and the resulting sentences sends out a clear message - gang violence will not be tolerated in Hackney and we’ll pursue these criminals using all legal tools available to us.”

• For more details, and pictures, see next Thursday’s Hackney Gazette.