THREE drug dealers – including two brothers - have been jailed for a combined 29 years after a violent attack in Southend

Officers responded to an incident shortly before 4.25am on 11 October 2022 following reports of a disturbance in York Road in the city. 

Detectives and staff from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate then began piecing together the moments which led up to the incident. 

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “They were able to identify that a violent incident had taken place between two groups, one of which was in charge of a large cannabis grow which had been put in place in a property. 

“In total, that grow included more than 100 plants in the property at various stages of growth.

Echo: Jailed - Xheni Ukcenaj was sentenced to 15 years in prisonJailed - Xheni Ukcenaj was sentenced to 15 years in prison (Image: Essex Police)

“During the confrontation between the two groups, the two young victims attempted to flee the area.

“At that stage, three people, brothers Aurel and Xheni Ukcenaj and Elton Vata, who were all part of an organised crime group, got into a Ford Focus car. That car was then used to violently injure both victims.”

One of the victims was also stabbed three times by Aurel Ukcenaj whilst lying on the ground. The car then left the area. 

When officers attended, they found a teenage boy who had sustained serious injuries.

Echo: Sentenced - Aurel Ukcenaj was jailed for 12 yearsSentenced - Aurel Ukcenaj was jailed for 12 years (Image: Essex Police)

He was taken to hospital in a critical condition but, thankfully, has recovered. 

A second teenager was taken to hospital with injuries to his legs. He too has, thankfully, recovered. 

A number of arrests were made in the coming days across south Essex and London. 

As a result of the investigation, Aurel Ukcenaj, 32, of Marischal Road, London, SE13, Xheni Ukcenaj, 27, of Chase Side, Enfield were charged with attempted murder and production of cannabis and Elton Vata, 38, of West Road, Westcliff was charged with production of cannabis. 

A trial had been due to begin on Tuesday, 7 November, at Basildon Crown Court, but all three men entered pleas which we have jointly accepted with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Echo: Gardener - Elton Vata looked after the cannabis and was jailed for 26 monthsGardener - Elton Vata looked after the cannabis and was jailed for 26 months (Image: Essex Police)

Both brothers admitted GBH with intent and production of cannabis and Vata admitted production of cannabis. 

They were sentenced at the same court today:

  • Xheni Ukcenaj was sentenced to 15 years in prison He will have to serve ten years before he becomes eligible for release.
  • Aurel Ukcenaj was sentenced to 12 years in prison and will serve eight years befor he is eligible for release.
  • Elton Vata was handed 26 months in jail and will be deported when his sentence finishes.

Detective Inspector Lydia George led the police investigation.

She said: “This case shows the extremely dangerous nature of being involved in the supply of any illicit drugs. The harm which is caused through the cultivation and supply of illegal drugs should never be underestimated.

“The groups which are involved in this are intimidating, reckless and ruthless. They prey upon vulnerable people and children and it is often those vulnerable people and children who end up as victims of serious violence.

“The investigation uncovered the criminal dealings of the Ukcenaj brothers and Vata and that work left them with few options but to admit their parts in the incident and all three have been sentenced to an appropriate time in prison.”