Police name their top 10 list of Yardie drug dealers

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Britain's 10 most dangerous Yardie gangsters have been identified by the police as part of Scotland Yard's operation against armed black drug dealers.

The Jamaican and black British criminals are among a hard core of 200 crack-cocaine dealers and gunmen in London who belong to about 20 gangs or groupings.

Detectives have also discovered that Jamaican drug dealers are using new covert routes into Britain to smuggle gangsters and shipments of crack cocaine.

Violent criminals are switching from the traditional passages from Jamaica to Heathrow and Gatwick. They are using a French-owned Caribbean island, with stop-offs in Europe, to hide from the police and immigration officers tracking them.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Coles, the officer in charge of investigating black-on-black shootings - codenamed Operation Trident - said that about 40 per cent of the murders and attempted murders his team dealt with were linked to Jamaican criminals operating in London and the rest to British blacks. In the past year, more than 20 people have been killed in crack-related shootings in London.

"Trident has a number of top targets that change according to our intelligence," Det Chief Supt Coles said. These targets are people seen as likely to commit gun offences in London. Most of the top 10 are British blacks.

Trident had identified about 20 groups of black criminals from six to 20-strong, operating in London, he revealed.

"About 40 per cent of the shootings and murders are connected directly to Jamaican criminals, the remainder are British blacks," he said.

Some of the groups are forming into gangs, including one called the Beaumont Crew.

The Jamaicans, while organised, do not operate in gangs, the senior officer says. But Yardies from the same districts in Jamaica have tended to stick together and moved to the same parts of London and other cities, including Bristol. The crack dealers have already moved into Manchester and Liverpool in significant numbers.

While Operation Trident is solving more murders than ever before, the killings continue in London.

In the most recent case, on 3 May, the body of Lyndon Davis, 34, a Jamaican, was found in a road in Hackney, east London. Mr Davis had been beaten to death and then set on fire in what the police described as a "vicious and sadistic killing".

A month earlier, on Good Friday, a gunman on the back of a motorbike shot Shaun Perch, 30, from Kingston, Jamaica, in the head and chest as he walked in Harlesden, north-west London.

Intelligence officers on Operation Trident have uncovered several new conduits for gangsters to illegally enter Britain.

They include Guadeloupe, a French-owned Caribbean island that is close to the islands of Martinique, St Kitts, Antigua and Dominica. By arriving from Guadeloupe, which has a population of just 400,000 and does not have a history of gang violence and crack dealing, the gangsters hope to avoid the heavy scrutiny British authorities put on for flights arriving directly from Jamaica.

Named by Christopher Columbus, who landed on the butterfly-shaped island on 4 November 1493, Guadeloupe covers 530 square miles and is promoted as a luxury holiday destination with rainforests and white-sand beaches.

Yardies are also entering Britain via the Continent, particularly the Netherlands. By flying first to the European Union the criminals try to hide among passengers without links to Jamaica.

Det Chief Supt Coles said: "The need for Jamaicans to have visas coming into Britain has prevented some people getting into the UK." As with most criminals, though, they have looked for ways to circumvent this obstacle.

"Already we have seen people coming from other islands in the Caribbean.We have also seen others fly to Europe and then try to enter Britain. They are looking for new opportunities. They have used Holland."

To combat this trend, Operation Trident relies on keeping its intelligence up to date. The police have been working with Jamaican authorities, immigration officials, customs, and MI5, to tackle the explosion of violence linked to crack dealing and the greater use of firearms.