Three more jailed for role in cocaine dealing network

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The latest members of a nationwide drug dealing network which distributed huge amounts of cocaine across the country have been jailed for nearly 20 years, following an investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).  

Three men who acted as cash and drugs couriers are the most recent members of an organised crime group (OCG) – led by two brothers from Hertfordshire – who travelled the length and breadth of the country to sell the class A drug.

In total, six men have now been sentenced to nearly 54 years’ imprisonment.  

Using specialist surveillance officers over a six-month period in 2019, ERSOU investigators were able to establish that the OCG, by utilising a network of couriers, sold multiple kilogrammes of cocaine at a time to other gangs across the country.  

Meetings were arranged by the group using covert encrypted devices intended to be hidden from the police, with couriers often travelling vast distances to drop off the drugs before returning immediately afterwards, all the while taking steps to disguise their activity.

Their destinations included Yorkshire, Dorset, Middlesbrough, Leicester, Luton, Northampton and Buckinghamshire.  

At a St Albans Crown Court hearing on Monday, September 6, 2021, the following were sentenced after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine:

  • Jameel Khan, 27, of Winchester Street, Nottingham, was jailed for 10 years
  • Ali Zarei, 27, of Derngate, Northampton, was jailed for five years and four months
  • Sarfraz Asif, 40, of Dordans Road, Luton, was jailed for four-and-a-half years 

The trio are the latest members of the OCG to be sentenced after brothers Ansar and Ajmal Akram, from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, were jailed for 15 years and 14 years respectively, and Ryan Brockley, from Leicester, was jailed for five years, on 9 August.

Khan’s role was as a trusted drug and cash courier, with detectives proving he had transported goods on 16 separate occasions, often returning with bags of cash in excess of £70,000 to hand directly to the OCGs leadership. He was trusted with an encrypted phone to liaise with the Akram brothers directly and is thought to have made significant sums for his part in the network.  

Zarei was a customer of the OCG and was a regional wholesaler around Northamptonshire, whereas Asif also acted as a courier.  

Detective Inspector Ian Mawdesley, from ERSOU’s Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “These men played significant roles in distributing cash and cocaine across the country. Put simply, the criminal enterprise wouldn’t have worked without them.  

“Between them they have moved multiple kilogrammes of drugs and hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash, and in doing so spread misery far and wide. They were key cogs in the OCG and their sentences reflect this.  

“Our detectives have worked incredibly hard to bring this criminal organisation down, and intelligence gathered throughout this investigation is already helping policing colleagues across the country tackle further criminal offending.

“In addition to these sentences, our financial investigators will also use Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) legislation wherever possible to ensure those making money through illegal activity such as drug dealing are forced to repay their illicit gains.”