Six men have been sentenced to nearly 50 years in prison following a huge West Yorkshire Police investigation into allegations of a large-scale drug trafficking operation.
The last of the group, Richard Beech, 46, of Urmston Lane in Manchester, was jailed today at Bradford Crown Court for five years after he admitted possessing criminal property and transfer of criminal property to the value of £5m.
Over 25kg of Class A drugs with a combined street value of up to £3m, four semi-automatic pistols with 200 rounds of ammunition, four silencers and £300,000 in cash were also seized during the investigation.
The other five, who have already been sentenced at Bradford Crown Court under the same operation, are:
• Rashid Ashraf, 40, of Leeds Old Road, Heckmondwike, who had a personalised number plate on his C63 AMG Mercedes Benz of PI5 TOL, was jailed for 18 years on Friday, December 4, after admitting charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply heroin, conspiracy to possess firearms, conspiracy to possess ammunition, conspiracy to possess a prohibited article (silencers) and possession of criminal property.
• Rizwan Shah, 27, of Fairbank Terrace, Bradford, who was photographed holding a gun, admitted the same offences as Ashraf and was sentenced to 10 years on Friday, 4 December.
• Yaser Nazir, 37, of Lindley Road, Bradford, was sentenced to five years and three months on Tuesday, after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine.
• Raja Altaf, 28, of St Mary’s Terrace, Bradford, was sentenced to seven years on Friday, December after he admitted possession with intent to supply cocaine and dangerous driving.
• Mohammed Haleem, 39, of Reginald Street, Bradford was sentenced yesterday to three years and four months after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine.
The operation was launched by Programme Precision – in which West Yorkshire Police work together and with partners to combat serious and organised crime – and a detailed and complex investigation followed.
Officers stopped an Audi A3 in the Girlington area of Bradford on Thursday, February 20, this year. Shah was the driver and 5kg of high purity cocaine, with a street value of up to £400,000, and £50,000 in cash was found.
Further enquiries led the search team to another address where 11kg of cocaine and 3kg of heroin was found. Four guns and 50 rounds of ammunition were also found.
Further enquiries led officers to stop two other vehicles in March.
A taxi being driven by Altaf was found to contain 2kg of high purity cocaine worth up to £160,000, and a vehicle occupied by Haleem and Nazir and stopped in the Little Horton area of Bradford had inside it 1kg of high purity cocaine.
Another 2kgs of cocaine were found in Haleem’s house, taking the total street value of the drugs to £240,000.
Ashraf was seen driving his distinctive Mercedes in the Manchester Road area of Bradford. When stopped by officers he was found to have 1kg of high purity cocaine, with a street value of up to £80,000.
The team searched another vehicle linked to him and found another 3kg of cocaine with a street value of £160,000.
The court also heard how Beech controlled the money on behalf of the group and he was stopped in his Range Rover on the M62 near Huddersfield on 29 April. Over £100,000 was recovered from his vehicle – which officers found concealed in professionally constructed hides and when officers searched his flat in the Manchester area a further £100,000 was recovered, as well as a professional cash counting machine.
Detective Superintendent Carl Galvin of Protective Services, and the Programme Precision lead, said: “To achieve this result took a whole team effort, with Programme Precision staff working alongside colleagues from across West Yorkshire Police to bring these offenders to justice.
“These sentences have dealt a considerable blow to serious and organised criminality in Bradford and West Yorkshire.
“This was a highly organised team of criminals trafficking significant amounts of class A drugs.
“People may have seen the likes of Ashraf flouting their ill-gotten gains thinking they were ‘untouchable’.
“What this proves is that no one is untouchable – those who involve themselves in this form of criminality can expect the Programme Precision team to take significant action against them.
“The criminals will be forever looking over their shoulder and because of the detailed investigation into this group, a significant amount of drugs have been taken off of the streets.
“Money which these criminals lined their pockets with has been confiscated and four guns and 200 rounds of ammunition, which could have caused immense harm in our communities have been taken off the streets of West Yorkshire.”