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A new investigation has uncovered that Boombox, a former Hip Hop record store in North London, was actually operated by undercover cops as part of a sting operation.

Dubbed “Operation Peyzac,” the half-a-million-pound sting — which was revealed in a detailed report by Vice on Monday (November 21) — was in an effort to control guns and violence in the area – and Metro Police wired the recording studio in the back with CCTV to do so.

According to a 2016 Daily Mail report, the operation put 37 alleged “armed criminals” and drug dealers behind bars for a cumulative total of 400 years. Vice reports the majority were Black and between the ages of 16 and 41.

“The undercover officers sought to portray themselves as having unspecified criminal links in order to infiltrate relevant persons to gather evidence on their levels of criminality,” Abbas Nawrozzadeh, a senior consultant solicitor at Eldwick Law, told Vice: “This was one of the largest undercover operations in London in recent years.”

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Nawrozzadeh served as the defense lawyer for a 19-year-old Black man arrested in the sting, and noted how his client looked up to the undercover officers and thought they were going to help him.

“Our client, like many of the other defendants, looked up to the undercover officers as ‘olders,’” Nawrozzadeh said, “experienced and credentialed, including with regard to criminal ties, music producers who were able to make them famous.”

Former Merseyside Police Detective Superintendent Richard Carr was also interviewed for the piece, and said that while undercover work is still helpful, it needs to be done ethically.

“I think that undercover policing has got a vital part to play in policing,” Carr said. But it’s got to be done ethically and proportionally. You’ve got to play by the rules. It all needs to be authorized. Some of these may be innocent people who have been entrapped. And I don’t know whether that’s the case [here], but what it doesn’t mean is that undercover policing is ineffective.”