Three people have been jailed for firearm and drug offences in Croydon.
Yoshika Smith, 23 (23.09.1996) of Canning Road, Croydon, Hugo Maldonado, 22 (19.02.1997) of Gedge Court, Mitcham, and Joshua Anyanwu, 28 (20.02.91) of Whitehorse Road, Croydon, appeared for sentencing at Croydon Crown Court on Thursday, 26 September in connection with drug and firearm offences.
The three were sentenced as follows:
Yoshika Smith was sentenced to 40 months for conspiracy to possess the firearm [without intent to endanger life] and 32 months for conspiracy to supply Class-A drugs. The sentences will run consecutively.
Hugo Maldonado was sentenced to 12 years for conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and four years six months for conspiracy to supply Class-A drugs, to be served consecutively.
Joshua Anyanwu was sentenced to 14 years for conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life.
The three had previously been convicted at Croydon Crown Court on Tuesday, 6 August, after a seven-day trial, and were remanded in custody to appear at Croydon Crown Court for sentencing.
The court heard how on Friday, 1 February, Smith had been driving around South London dropping off drugs to various people, with Maldonado using WhatsApp messenger to instruct her on which locations to attend.
Maldonado asked Smith to drive to a location on Whitehorse Road by a petrol station to pick up a bag from Anyanwu. Smith later claimed that she didn’t know Anyanwu at the time and did not know what they were collecting from him.
Smith’s car, a blue Ford Fiesta, was already under surveillance by police that day, and officers witnessed Anyanwu approach the car and get in the front seat.
Officers noted that he was only in the car a very brief time, presumably just to drop the bag off – containing the firearm. He left the car and made his way back to his address a short distance away.
Armed officers then followed Smith as she drove away and conducted a stop on her car.
On arrest, she admitted that she had been given something illegal but did not know what was in the bag, just that it was something ‘heavy’.
The bag had contained a loaded handgun.
Maldonado was arrested on Tuesday, 12 February. At the time of arrest he was in possession of the mobile phone that he had used to contact Smith and to arrange drug deals and the collection of the gun. The message and call history on the phone clearly linked him to the illegal activities.
Prior to the trial, Maldonado and Smith had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class-A drugs. Smith had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess the firearm, without intent to endanger life.
During trial Maldonado and Anyanwu both also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life.
A fourth defendant, a 20-year-old female, was also arrested. She was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
Detective Constable Mick Grimshaw, of Specialist Crime South, led the investigation and said: “It is so important that we continue the fight against illegal firearms on our streets.
“Not only that, but these convictions have allowed us to remove a significant drug line out of South London. We want to do all we can to remove Class-A drugs, like cocaine, from our communities to make it a safer place to live.
“Drug-dealing has a deeply negative impact on the lives of many and is closely linked to the violence we see on our streets. Bringing a firearm into a situation like this, particularly in the case of Maldonado and Anyanwu, only incites and encourages this violence to occur.
“If we had not recovered the weapon, the result could have been an innocent member of public paying the ultimate price.”
Do you know about someone who is involved in crime? If you have information that could help keep your community safe, but don’t want to speak to police, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They do not ask your name and cannot trace your call or I.P address.
Any young people who have either information about violence or knife crime, can visit www.fearless.org where they can pass on information anonymously – your I.P address will not be traced. Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity, and is also independent of the police.