Inside the terrifying estate controlled by Albanian drug gang where locals are ‘targets’

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A woman from Barking has described the fear and constant intimidation she has to face living on an estate controlled by notorious Albanian gangsters. The Hellbanianz is an infamous street gang based in the Gascoigne Estate in Barking, East London. Its members regularly boast about their criminal exploits and gangster lifestyle on social media.

They are renowned for posting photos of guns, cars and cash to Instagram, as they revel in their notoriety.

Daisy O’Doherty has lived on the estate for many years and in a recent interview for MyLondon, she described in vivid detail the terrifying reality of having to live check-by-jowl with the criminals.

She said the gangsters often hang out in the communal areas and make their presence known to everyone in the vicinity.

Ms O’Doherty explained to Zak Garner-Purkis: “You just constantly hear people in their cars or pulling up or shouting things to each other, playing music or talking really loud.

“But it’s done for a reason.

“It’s always worrying around here now, that’s just how life is, there’s so much intimidation going on.

“Especially as a White female living on my own in a council property.

“I’m a target, without a doubt.”

The Barking resident was awoken one night several months ago by her frightened dog.

When she went to open her flat door to see what was going on, she was stunned to come across an armed policeman, who yelled at her to get back inside.

Ms O’Doherty recalled: “I heard [noises] outside and opened my front door to a policeman with a gun and dogs.

“He was, like, screaming at me to ‘get in’. Red [laser] dots were pointing at me – I thought they were going to take me out.

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“They had stormed the block, I’ve never seen anything like it in my whole life.”

The police raid was part of an operation to disrupt a “rent-a-gun” scheme for criminals in south-east England.

Ten people were arrested for offences, including conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to commit GBH.

Ms O’Doherty said no-one was safe on the estate any longer and claimed the gangs were targeting people with spare rooms, from where they could see their drugs.

She recently found a “big” knife at the back of her block and called the police who came and took it away.

In November, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said Albanian crime gangs are smuggling hundreds of millions of pounds a year out of the UK and using Channel crossings to staff cannabis farms.

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Senior NCA intelligence manager Ged McCann said Albanian gangs are “effectively bringing in the labour force for the cannabis grows”, adding: “Many individuals that are arrested in cannabis grows arrived in the country a matter of days before on small boats.”

Fellow intelligence manager Steve Brocklesby added: “Albanian OCGs (organised crime groups) in the UK, their main objective when they make money is to get it out of the country as soon as possible.

“So, they will smuggle it out of the UK into Albania in whatever form it comes.

“The estimates are that hundreds of millions of pounds UK sterling is leaving the UK and ending up in Albania, where it then gets semi-legitimised either into the banking system or to pay for construction work.”