(London – NCA) Investigators from the National Crime Agency have dismantled a well-established international network of heroin traffickers. Tahir Mahmood, aged 53, from Stourbridge, controlled multiple couriers in Spain who imported large quantities of heroin into the UK and other European countries on flights from Pakistan.
Mahmood and his right-hand man Anwar Bashir, aged 43, from Bradford, organised importations using sophisticated concealments within suitcases, books and specially adapted clothing.
His Honour Judge James Burbidge QC sentenced Mahmood to 16 years at Birmingham Crown Court today after he pleaded guilty to five heroin trafficking offences in January. Bashir, who was found guilty of three offences following a six-week trial in May, received 15 years.
Both men travelled extensively across Europe to recruit and meet with couriers but were stopped in their tracks following the multi-agency NCA-led surveillance operation.
Analysis of mobile phone data was vitally important as it pinpointed their locations at the time of the heroin seizures and showed they were in contact with each other as well as the couriers.
Paul Risby, NCA Branch Commander, said: “We proved Mahmood and Bashir were linked to seizures totalling 46 kilos but I believe the network dismantled could have been responsible for many more importations – bringing misery, harm and violence to communities in Birmingham, Bradford and other cities.
“Tackling the supply of drugs on a global level and protecting our borders are priorities for the NCA and its partners. We targeted the couriers one by one and obtained the evidence that led to the downfall of these two men. They are now behind bars where they belong.”
An additional 49 kilos of heroin have been seized as a result of the wider operation. Five couriers were prosecuted separately and received sentences ranging from five to 12 years.
The NCA operation has been supported by the Crown Prosecution Service’s Organised Crime Division, West Midlands Police, the Spanish Guardia Civil and other international law enforcement agencies.
Andy Young, from the Organised Crime Division at the CPS, said: “Those who trade in illegal drugs bring misery to our communities and the CPS is determined to act against them. This was a complex case involving very close working between the NCA and the CPS Organised Crime Division, which resulted in the conviction of these two drug dealers for their part in the importation of a significant amount of heroin into the UK and mainland Europe.
“Today’s sentences are proof that international borders are no obstacle when it comes to bringing offenders to justice and should serve as a warning that those who peddle illegal drugs will face the consequences of their actions.”