Mark Duggan was a core member of one of the most violent gangs in Europe – a group linked to two murders and numerous other shootings during a murderous feud with rivals – an inquest into his death has heard.
Mr Duggan was believed by police to be responsible for shooting a man in a nightclub and firing a gun in a car park in the months before he was fatally shot by armed officers, sparking the riots in 2011 that spread nationwide.
The 29-year-old was one of six members of the Tottenham Man Dem gang who were being watched during a four-day surveillance operation in August 2011, and was considered the man most likely to get a gun, according to documents and evidence on Monday.
The gang had links with Turkish gangs and was responsible for drug distribution in London, a senior officer told the inquest. TMD were “undoubtedly the most prominent criminals in London” with a “propensity to use firearms and extreme violence”, according to the documents shown to the jury.
“They were considered the most violent people in London, outside London and stretching across Europe,” Acting Detective Superintendent Michael Foote told the hearing at the High Court. He said Mr Duggan was among the core of 48 members of the 100-strong gang and was involved in gun crime, the supply of ammunition and class-A drugs.
“They were involved in a number of murders, attempted murders and conflict with other organised criminal gangs from opposing areas,” he said.
The Tottenham gang was involved in a long-running feud with rival Hackney gangs and had a history of robbing other drug dealers.
The gang operated across London, the Home Counties and beyond, and officers had recovered guns, ammunition and large quantities of class-A drugs, according to the documents.
The Metropolitan Police set up Operation Dibri in 2008 to target the gang members after a surge in gun violence linked to the group.
Intelligence received by police in January 2011 indicated that Mr Duggan had shot someone at a nightclub. Reports the following month suggested that he had fired shots in a nightclub car park. Two months before he died, reports suggested that he was storing drugs at his home and was intent on getting hold of a gun, said Mr Foote, who was in charge of the gun crime unit for northwest London.
An intelligence report from 2011 shown to the jury indicated that Mr Duggan and other members had been involved in shootings and had now moved up the criminal hierarchy and were in a position to orchestrate criminal activity. “Intelligence suggests they have access to firearms and are prepared to use them,” according to the report. Mark Duggan’s criminal record included only one minor drugs offence and one of handling stolen goods for which he was fined a total of £280. There was an earlier caution for a public order offence. But a July police intelligence report suggested that he was a “long-standing senior member” of TMD and there was a “wealth of current reliable intelligence” suggesting that he had ready access to firearms.
Mr Duggan was also said by police to have aggressively confronted officers when stopped in Tottenham. Further intelligence suggested that he had had a Beretta handgun which he kept at his girlfriend Simone’s house. But Mr Foote accepted the intelligence was of a quality similar to someone overhearing a conversation in a pub.
The inquest has heard that the two most contentious issues that the jury will have to decide was whether Mr Duggan was armed at the time and whether the police shooting was “absolutely necessary”.
The inquest continues.