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    Saturday, 8 July 2017

    Eight men facing jail in UK over £10m Pakistan smuggling plot

    Eight men have been convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin worth up to £10m into the UK from Pakistan following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.
    Seven of the men, who concealed the drugs inside industrial machinery, were found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday and they will be sentenced on 14 of July.
    Ameran Zeb Khan, 38, Mohammed Ali, 36, and Sajid Hussain, 32, organised two container shipments from Lahore - via Karachi - to the London Gateway Port in February and July last year.
    Ten men from Birmingham appeared in court in connection with the massive heroin haul discovered hidden inside metal lathes at an industrial estate in Oldbury when the NCA carried out raids on July 1, 2014.
    NCA and Border Force (BF) officers reassembled the equipment and sent the container on to its delivery address at an industrial unit in Sandwell, West Midlands.
    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.
    The seized heroin, which the group planned to sell on in bulk, had a purity of 58 per cent and was worth £5m uncut.
    After cutting the 165kg of heroin to 25 per cent purity, street level gangs could have made up to 2m street deals, generating revenue of up to £19,140,000, said NCA.
    Ameran Zeb Khan was already known to the NCA as a subject of a civil recovery and tax investigation.
    The investigation eventually saw Birmingham and Northern Ireland-based individuals deprived of 11 properties and money worth more than £2m.
    Zeb Khan, his close associate Khaibar Rahman, and a number of other family members handed over four properties and £50,000 in a bank account to the NCA in October 2016.
    The NCA recovered  further seven properties and the contents of another bank account at court hearings where NCA investigators successfully argued that these assets had been acquired with the proceeds of crime.
    Jim Cook, senior investigating officer at the NCA said: “The officers on this job skilfully took apart metal machinery, reassembled it and got it to its destination in good time without arousing suspicion.
    The NCA, Border Force and West Midland police have stopped street level gangs accruing revenues of about £20million.
    “This adds to the illicit property potfolio the NCA has already clawed back from a wider group with links to this job. Results like this protect the public firstly by keeping this drug off the streets but also by putting a serious dent in the criminal economy.”
    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.
    “By careful presentation of the evidence in court, the prosecution demonstrated the individual roles played by each of these men, resulting in the guilty verdicts returned by the jury.”
    Alam Zeb Khan was one of 32 men in Birmingham jailed for a total of 140 years in 2014 for laundering more than £180 million for drugs traffickers.
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