BIRMINGHAM: Seven British-Pakistanis were among an eight-member Birmingham drugs gang have been jailed for more than 138 years for conspired to smuggle up to £19 million of heroin into the United Kingdom.
The crooks had hid the drugs inside industrial machinery shipped from Lahore, but were arrested following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The eight, including a British-Indian, were jailed at Birmingham Crown Court for a total of 138 and a half years after being convicted of conspiracy to import heroin.
Ringleaders Ameran Zeb Khan, 38; Mohammed Ali, 36; and Sajid Hussain, 32; were sentenced to 22 years each.
The court previously heard the men had organised two container shipments from Lahore, via Karachi, to the London Gateway Port in February and July last year.
Border Force officers searched the July shipment, cutting open the lathes to find 165kg of powdered heroin.
The NCA and Border Force officers reassembled the equipment and sent the container on to its delivery address at an industrial unit in Sandwell.
Omar Isa, 36 and Imran Arif, 35, took delivery of the lathes, unaware NCA officers were filming them and recording their conversations.
Other key players in the group were Mohammed Ashaf Khan, 49, who handled logistics while Rajesh Patel, 52, used his business to provide apparently legitimate paperwork for the shipments.
Zulfgar Munsaf, 38, who pleaded guilty before the trial, passed on the bosses’ wishes to the ground troops.
Ameran Zeb Khan was already known to the NCA as a subject of a civil recovery and tax investigation.
The NCA said the seized heroin, which the group planned to sell on in bulk, had a purity of 58 per cent and was worth £5 million uncut.
It is believed a similar quantity of heroin was contained in an earlier shipment, meaning the conspiracy could have earned the group up to £10 million.
After cutting the 165kg of heroin to 25 per cent purity, street level gangs could have made up to 2 million street deals, generating revenue of up to £19 million.
Paul Risby, branch commander at the NCA, said: “This was a determined and capable criminal group. They had connections to heroin suppliers and used legitimate business paperwork to provide cover for their activity.
This investigation put some really concerning members of the West Midlands criminal community in prison and the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands are safer as a result.”
Pete Roffey, senior officer at Border Force London Gateway, said: “As this case demonstrates, drug smugglers will go to great lengths to conceal their criminal cargo in an attempt to evade border controls.
John Davies, from the Crown Prosecution Service’s international justice and organised crime division, said: “These men were involved in a sophisticated conspiracy to import a huge amount of heroin into the country, ignoring the human cost class A drugs can have.”
The prosecution case demonstrated how the operation involved the use of bogus companies, false documents, unregistered mobile phones and trips to Pakistan, he also said.
Ameran Zeb Khan, 38, Cobham Road, Bordesley Green – 22 years;
Mohammed Ali, 37, Wyndcliff Road, Bordesley Green – 22 years;
Sajid Hussain, 32, Fieldhouse Road, Yardley – 22 years;
Mohammed Ashaf Khan, 49, The Leverretts, Handsworth – 17.5 years;
Omar Isa, 35, Chipperfield Road, Castle Bromwich – 15.5 years;
Zulfgar Munsaf, 38, Bellefield Road, Winson Green – 14 years;
Imran Arif, 35, Kenelm Road, Small Heath – 10 years;
Rajesh Patel, 52, Chesham, Buckinghamshire – 15.5 years.