• Friday, April 12, 2024

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Gang who used ‘Thank you NHS’ van to transport drugs jailed

West Midlands Police said Kamaljit Singh and Wesley had been granted ‘Covid loans’ which they “reinvested into the drugs trade”

Kamaljit Singh Chahal and his nephew Bhipon Chahal who led the drugs trade (Image credit: West Midlands Police)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

A WEST BROMWICH crime group which abused government-backed Covid loans to run a drugs empire during pandemic lockdowns has been jailed.

The 10-member gang, led by Kamaljit Singh Chahal and his nephew Bhipon Chahal, used a ‘Thank You NHS’ van to transport heroin and cocaine across the West Midlands to avoid being detected.

Leicester Crown Court on Friday (23) sentenced Kamaljit Singh, from Sutton Coldfield, to 18 years in prison and Bhipon, from Great Barr, to 14 years behind bars.

Matthias Tulloch has been jailed for 12 years, Sandeep Johal and Miquel Lewin-Miller for 11 years, Aaron Williams for 10 years and six months and Robert Wesley for nine years.

Alan Moore-Caswell will have to serve a jail term of four years and two months while Sandeep Singh and Hitesh Salhotra have been jailed for three years and nine months each.

West Midlands Police said Kamaljit Singh and Wesley had been granted ‘Covid loans’ which they “reinvested into the drugs trade” and the gang used encrypted devices to supply cocaine on a “commercial scale” during the height of the pandemic.

They used a network of couriers while Lewin-Miller and Tulloch worked as facilitators.

Tulloch used an NHS-emblazoned van to carry out the criminal activities, taking advantage of the Covid pandemic, the force said.

But the drug empire crumbled when detectives caught the gang after launching a covert investigation named Op Igneous.

They seized chat messages exchanged between 26 March and 5 June 2020 to discuss the management and delivery of the Class A drugs.

The West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit’s chief inspector Peter Cooke said the fact that the men would spend nearly 100 years behind bars in total for the crime would send out a warning that the police force “simply won’t tolerate it.”

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