by Nadeem Badshah
ASIAN drug dealers are increasingly selling to middle-class users, running home delivery services where they give out business cards and use chip and pin payment, according to experts.
Community leaders have warned that the criminals are luring more wealthier clients behind closed doors, rather than on the street, to avoid being caught by police.
Customers are willing to spend £150 for a gram of cocaine, compared to £50-£60 charged on the street, and are offered loyalty discounts in a trend which is tearing addicts’ families apart.
Home secretary Sajid Javid launched a crackdown in a recent speech, vowing: “We need a much better understanding of who drug users are. On my watch, illegal drug use will never be tolerated.”
One criminal operation was led by graduates Arif Ahmed and Karim Abdul, who handed out business cards and offered to deliver cocaine in London.
The men, both 21, had a slogan for their business: “Magic, any time, anywhere.” Ahmed and Abdul were sentenced to four and-a-half years at Snaresbrook crown court, while a third man, Kasru Abdul, received five years in 2017.
Gurpal Virdi, a former Metropolitan Police officer for 30 years, told Eastern Eye the
lack of action from cash-strapped police forces “is fuelling drug dealing”.
“In the middle classes, drug use is there, especially cocaine, but it is usually ignored
by the criminal justice system because the drug dealers are dressed differently and often
tend to drive to deliver the drugs.”
“Where street drug dealers see violent vengeance as crucial to status and security, the opposite is true for their middle-class counterparts,” he added.
“Middle-class drug dealers achieve status to deliberately avoid conflict, which helps keep their drug markets more peaceful and consequently, [they are] less likely to be noticed by law enforcement.”
The latest crime figures show that large numbers of people earning salaries of £50,000 or more are using cocaine, with 3.4 per cent in the income bracket say they take the drug, up from 2.2 per cent in 2014/15.
In areas described as “cosmopolitan” by the Office for National Statistics, 5.8 per cent
admit to using the class A drug while the figure is 2.6 per cent in other parts of the UK.
Virdi added: “Asian drug dealers recognise this difference and … are going for the
middle-class cocaine option as the clientele is financially sound, dresses posh and lives
in an expensive neighbourhood. As it involves the middle and upper classes, they
are not going to call the police. Even if they do get caught, they will have expensive defence lawyers or go into rehab.”
In a separate case, police found dealer Mohammed Khan living near Lord’s Cricket
Ground in north London – the fifth most expensive area of the capital – when they
discovered his cocaine business.
He had £50,000 under his bed and a search of his body warmer found more cash and blocks of white powder. Last year, Khan was sentenced to 22 years.
Dr Qadir Baksh has carried out research into drug problems in south Asian communities
in the London boroughs of Waltham Forest and Redbridge.
He told Eastern Eye: “In my Walthamstow research, we concluded that the drug market
as it were was in the hands of Pakistanis. Similarly, there’s a big problem with the
Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets.
“From my reports, faith-based interventions are recommended, particularly involving
imams and mosques.
“Above all, the communities, families and parents need to acknowledge the problem
instead of denying that it exists.”
In one of the reports from Dr Bakhsh on drugs and alcohol, the researchers said:
“This is a real scourge in our community, especially among our Muslim youth.
“It not only destroys the life of individuals but also that of the extended family. It is a
contributory factor to criminal activity.
“Our mosques can play a key role in prevention, by promoting the virtues of Islam
in a way that is meaningful and engages our youth. This should be promoted not only
through regular sermons but also by organising outreach working groups, for example,
through talks in school assemblies.
“We believe for sermons, guidance and community service to be effective, they must be delivered by an imam who has acquired robust, necessary and recognised qualifications. The imam must also have an on-going relevant professional development plan and regular appraisal.”
Powder cocaine is now the second-most popular drug behind cannabis, with an estimated
875,000 adults taking it.
Recorded deaths linked to use of the drug increased to 432 last year from 139 in 2012.
The Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick said: “There are middle-class people
thinking about global warming and fair trade and all sorts of things, but they think
there’s no harm in taking a bit of cocaine.
“Well, there is. There is misery throughout the supply chain.”