THE DOUBLE STANDARDS
By Gareth Davies The Croydon Advertiser, November 01, 2013
The police said the Jaffna Boys were known to frequent Haran Bros off licence and groceries
The Crown & Pepper pub, also known as AJA Lounge, was closed following incidents involving the Jaffna Boys, a group of Tamils of Sri Lankan origin recognized by police as Croydon’s most dangerous gang.
Croydon Police’s gangs unit has been aware of the Jaffna Boys since reports of threats and extortion among businesses in London Road, West Croydon and areas of Thornton Heath, where they are based.
Its members have been arrested for GBH, drug dealing and attempted murder. Last year a man linked to the gang was murdered in Lewisham.
They intimidate local businesses into handing over money or free food and threaten anyone who attempts to give evidence against them.
As a result it took police some time to learn of the extent of the problems they were causing.
“The Jaffna Boys act within their own community and that community is reluctant to speak about them,” said a report into Croydon’s gangs in 2012. This reluctance led to a “dearth of criminal and community intelligence” and an under-reporting of allegations.
They present “very serious problems”, said the strategy report, which noted incidents of serious violence, robbery, weapons, extortion and drug dealing across Broad Green and West Thornton wards. They have also caused issues in Merton and Wandsworth.
Last October, police in Croydon launched Operation Gabbert, a joint crackdown on the Jaffna Boys with the Trident gangs unit.
Raids on houses in and around Thornton Heath and Broad Green uncovered Class A drugs such as crack and heroin, as well as cannabis, paraphernalia and significant sums of money.
Ten members of the gang were jailed for a total of 14 years, with sentences ranging from 18 months suspended to 12 years. Detective Superintendent Simon Messinger described the convictions as “excellent news for the local community”. For some time the situation appeared to improve.
In the last few weeks several of those gang members were released from custody. Detective Inspector Fisher, from Croydon’s gangs unit, acknowledged that their return had led to “increased tensions in the London Road area”.
Their main rivals, The Tooting Tamils, have been known to travel to Croydon to attack them with knives and bats. On one occasion two tamils were murdered as a result of the rivalry.
On October 16 this year a Jaffna Boy had his car smashed up by a group of over 15 males.
A day later, staff at the Crown & Pepper refused to serve a Jaffna Boy. He jumped over the bar and a fight occurred. Before police had arrived he was ejected from the pub and had left the scene..
Around half an hour later the same gang member was attacked in London Road but managed to barricade himself inside Haran Bros off license in London Road, where the Jaffna Boys are known to frequent.
When officers arrived they found he had suffered a fractured hand. He stated that four car loads of Asian youths had attacked him before fleeing the scene.
A short time later police stopped the cars and nine men members of the Tooting Tamils were arrested. A number of weapons were recovered.
Police believe the attack was directed by someone at the Crown & Pepper and asked the landlord to close the pub to prevent possible reprisals. He refused so officers imposed a closure order. The pub’s future will be discussed at a council licensing meeting on Tuesday.
Since the fights on October 18 there have been ongoing incidents between the gangs, including a prominent Jaffna Boy being arrested and charged with possession of a cricket bat.