TWO Indian-origin persons have pleaded guilty for their role in smuggling millions of pounds worth illegal drugs into the UK.
The gang, headed by Wasim Hussain and Nazarat Hussain, set up a series of front companies which were involved in the importation of chicken from the Netherlands.
Two brothers Manjinder Singh Thakhar and Davinder Singh Thakhar pleaded guilty after being caught following an investigation by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
The duo will be sentenced in January.
The two ringleaders of the Birmingham-based organised crime group, have been jailed for a combined sentence of around 44 years after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court last week.
On three occasions, heroin and cocaine worth around £5 million was seized hidden in chicken shipments; however, NCA investigators subsequently identified another 16 importations which they suspect contained drugs.
The importations began in June 2016 and continued into 2017. Following each of the first two seizures, the crime group set up a new company to try and cover their tracks, using a new name to carry on.
They would use genuine shipping companies to move loads from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to distribution hubs where they would be collected by members of the group.
Following the interception of two chicken shipments, and the arrests of two gang members involved, the gang switched tactics. That time they used two corrupt baggage handlers to collect three kilos of high-purity cocaine off a flight from Brazil to Heathrow.
After this drug smuggling route had been thwarted, the Hussains moved back to their chicken method and recruited Mohammed Shabir, a worker at a Birmingham-based meat supplier to help.
In June 2017, another shipment was dispatched from the Netherlands, but the drugs were removed by the Dutch police, who were working with the NCA.
Wasim Hussain and Mohammed Shabir were arrested by NCA officers shortly afterwards. Nazaret Hussain was in the Netherlands at the time, but he was arrested by the Dutch police and extradited back to the UK.
Nazarat Hussain would later plead guilty to three counts of conspiring to import class A drugs.
Brothers Manjinder Singh Thakhar and Davinder Singh Thakhar, along with Mohammed Shabir, all pleaded guilty to participating in the activities of an organised crime group.
Following a five-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Wasim Hussain was found guilty of conspiring to import a class A drug.
The judge jailed Nazaret Hussain to 29-and-a-half years in prison, while Wasim Hussain got 14 years and four months.
Mohammed Shabir, Manjinder Singh Thakhar and Davinder Singh Thakhar will be sentenced on January 23, 2020.
Colin Williams, NCA branch operations manager, said: “Throughout the course of this investigation, which has gone on for more than three years, we have systematically dismantled an organised crime group that was involved in the importation and distribution of class A drugs across the West Midlands.
“As well as drugs, the gang also attempted to source firearms, presumably to be used to threaten others in support of their criminality.
“The investigation has uncovered links to criminal networks in London and the Netherlands, and our partnership with the Dutch police was crucial.”
Meanwhile, a sixth man, Khaiyam Hussain, was found not guilty of participating in an organised crime group.