Watch gunshots fired as drugs gang busted - 'Sorry, I didn't know it was the police'

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Body-worn camera footage shows the moment shots were fired as police raided the address of a gang involved in a plan to import and steal drugs.

A drugs gang has been jailed following an investigation which began with the theft of luggage and saw gunshots fired.

Analysis later found that blank rounds were fired when police arrested a member of the gang, which was involved in a complicated plot to steal drugs.

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The investigation was led by officers from the Met’s Aviation Policing Command after two women reported their suitcases and passports were stolen while waiting for a taxi after arriving in London on a flight from Los Angeles on January 11 last year.

CCTV footage was used to trace the suspects back to a car registered to Eleanar Attard. Two days after the theft, she was arrested at her home in Broxbourne, along with her husband, Nicholas Panayiotou. On Panayiotou’s phone detectives found evidence that the theft was part of a wider conspiracy to import and then steal a large amount of cannabis.

A WhatsApp group chat contained details of a plan to smuggle 58kgs of cannabis into the UK from the USA. Officers found evidence that the group plotted to steal the cannabis from the two women recruited to import it – by Panayiotou and his wife posing as customs officers and pretending to seize the suitcases and passports.

Automatic number plate recognition data gathered by detectives showed that Panayiotou and his wife travelled to a hotel and then on to their restaurant, A Touch of Greek, both in Chingford, after the theft. Three videos on Panayiotou’s phone showed large quantities of cannabis and officers discovered the videos were taken the day after the theft of luggage and were filmed at the restaurant.

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Three other people in the WhatsApp group were identified, with Constantinos Zavros found to be connected to those supplying the drugs in the US. Luke Wileman was identified as advising the gang on how to sell the drugs and suggested clothing for Panayiotou and Attard to wear to pose as customs officers. Police arrested Zavros and Wileman in April 2023 and July 2023 respectively.

A third man, Koby Haik, was identified and officers from the Met’s Territorial Support Group (TSG) attended his home on April 5 2023. But as they entered, Haik stood at the top of the stairs armed with a baseball bat and fired two shots from a gun.

When detained, Haik said he “didn't know it was the police”, but police say they clearly identifying themselves. The Met says the gun was later confirmed as an “imitation” that contained blank rounds.

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Met Police

Detective Chief Inspector Inderjit Kaur said: “This investigation highlights some fantastic detective work by Met Police officers to identify and uncover a dangerous group involved in drugs importation and supply, which we know can have a terrible effect on local communities.

“We also saw incredible bravery and professionalism from TSG officers who were shot at as they arrested one of the suspects. Thankfully, only blanks were fired, but thanks to this investigation, a dangerous weapon is off the streets and a group of dangerous criminals are now behind bars."

Koby Haik, Contantinos Zavros, Nicholas Panayiotou and Eleanar Attard.Koby Haik, Contantinos Zavros, Nicholas Panayiotou and Eleanar Attard.
Koby Haik, Contantinos Zavros, Nicholas Panayiotou and Eleanar Attard.

Gang sentenced

Contantinos Zavros, 34, of Carlton Avenue, Southgate, and Koby Haik, 31, of Ashfield Road, Southgate were both convicted of conspiracy to import cannabis, conspiracy to supply cannabis and conspiracy to steal (suitcases and passports). Haik was also convicted of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Luke Wileman, 32, of Faygate Lane, Horsham and Nicholas Panayiotou, 43, of Sawells, Broxbourne were both convicted of conspiracy to supply cannabis and conspiracy to steal. A charge of conspiracy to import cannabis against Panayiotou is to lie on file.

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Zavros, Haik and Panayiotou were sentenced on April 12 at Isleworth Crown Court. Zavros was sentenced to six years, 11 months' imprisonment. Haik was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and Panayiotou was sentenced to four years, one month's imprisonment. Wileman is due to be sentenced at the same court on 9 May.

Eleanar Attard, 45, of Sawells, Broxbourne was charged with theft of suitcases and passports. She was sentenced on March 15 at Isleworth Crown Court to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement and complete 100 hours of unpaid work.