THREE men have been charged after a number of vulnerable teenagers from London were found to be in possession of drugs in Colchester.
The complex investigation is looking into the exploitation of young people and the supply of Class A drugs in north Essex.
Detectives are working to find out how the teenage boys had travelled to Colchester.
As part of these inquiries, specialist police officers executed three warrants in London and Kent on Thursday.
Three men were arrested on suspicion of drugs and exploitation offences.
Richard Talawila, 21, of Achilles Street, London, Jimmy Songa, 24, of Park Road, London, and Joshua Van De Wetering, 18, of Heathside Avenue, in Bexleyheath, have been charged with being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and arranging or facilitating the travel of a person with a view to exploitation.
They appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
No pleas were entered and all three were remanded into custody to appear at Ipswich Crown Court on January 6, 2023.
Detective Inspector James Healy, who leads Essex Police’s Op Raptor North team, said: “Our teams target those who we believe are causing the highest harm in our communities.
“This is a job which is carried out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and our desire to keep communities safe cannot be underestimated.
“Drugs, and unfortunately the serious violence which often goes alongside it, are a poison on our communities and we will work tirelessly to target those who we believe play a part in that.”
Temporary Chief Inspector Stuart Austin, Colchester District Commander, issued a warning to criminals looking to operate in the city.
He added: “We know some gangs believe they are able to sell their produce on our streets but in Essex we take a zero-tolerance approach to that.
“I would urge anyone who witnesses any suspicious activity to report it to us.
“It is with information provided by you that we are best able to tackle the issues which are causing the highest harm in our communities.”