A century behind bars
A drugs gang supplying heroin, cocaine and cannabis on an ‘industrial scale’ in Birmingham have been jailed for more than 100 years after West Midlands Police brought down their network.
Detectives uncovered drug safe houses, cannabis factories and an extensive chain of dealer phones allocated names such as ‘The T Line’ used to take orders and even issue text advertisements.
Shaymas Ulhaq, from Weston Road in Handsworth, was identified as the kingpin who oversaw six cannabis grows – including one with a £150,000 yield operating from the back of a tyre firm in Erdington – and managed a group of drug runners and farmers.
When officers stopped the 32-year-old in a car on 22nd July 2014 he was wearing a diamond encrusted ring and a jewel-laden Audemars Piguet watch, while £1,000 in cash was found in one of his pockets.
He claimed to be a successful car dealer – but analysis of his phone showed regular contact with other numbers linked to the cartel including texts issuing orders and instructions showing he was directing the enterprise.
Other lead players in the network – which police proved had operated for at least 14 months from March 2014 to May 2015 – included Masoud Ali, Mohammed Rahman-Harries, brothers Narinder and Sandeep Kandola, Azim Thakur and Wayne O Connor.
Officers working on the case carried out a series of car stops and house raids netting drugs, dealer paraphernalia and tens of phones that were connected through shared messages relating to drug dealing and supply.
And at Birmingham Crown Court this week, 15 people were jailed for a total of 101 years for drug dealing, including an 18-year term for Ulhaq who was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine and cannabis.
Detective Inspector Ben West, from West Midlands Police Force CID, said: “This was a sophisticated system of drug trafficking featuring a chain of command… it turned over hundreds of thousands of pounds in the space of 14 months.
“The judge commented that distribution of such drugs can have ‘catastrophic results’ and ruin countless lives.
“Ulhaq and his co-conspirators were making huge sums of money out of other people’s misery and flaunting that wealth. When Ulhaq was stopped he was wearing a watch valued in excess of what many hard-working people would fail to earn in a year.”