A man from Berkshire, England, has been charged by National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators following a seizure of almost 100 kilos of cocaine at Newhaven port in East Sussex. The haul was discovered concealed in a load of frozen fish in the rear of a refrigerated van searched by the Border Force as it came off a ferry.
Officers recovered 97 packages containing approximately a kilo of cocaine each. The narcotics were taken away by authorities for further analysis, but if cut and sold at street level it is likely the haul would have had a potential value of around £10 million (almost US $13 million). The driver, 50-year-old James Satterley from Cookham in Maidenhead, was questioned by NCA officers and charged with importing class A drugs.
NCA Senior Investigating Officer Paul Morris commented: “We are working alongside Border Force, Sussex Police, Thames Valley Police and the South East Regional Organized Crime Unit to investigate this seizure and the circumstances around it.
“Working with partners we are determined to do all we can to disrupt the organized crime groups involved in the large-scale importation of class A drugs, which fuel serious violence and impact some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Making seizures like this is an important part of that work.”
Stiff Jail Sentences for Smugglers
Meanwhile, the two ringleaders of a Birmingham-based organized crime group involved in smuggling millions of pounds worth of class A drugs into the UK have been jailed for a combined sentence of almost 44 years, the NCA reported on November 28.
The gang, headed by Wasim Hussain and Nazarat Hussain (unrelated), set up a series of front companies that were involved in the importation of chicken from the Netherlands.
On three occasions heroin and cocaine worth around £5 million was seized hidden in chicken shipments, however NCA investigators subsequently identified another 16 importations that they suspect contained drugs.
The importations began in June 2016 and continued into 2017. Following each of the first two seizures the crime gang set up a new company to try and cover its tracks, using a new name to carry on.
Genuine shipping companies would be used to move loads from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to distribution hubs where members of the group would collect them. The shipments were set up by Nazarat Hussain, who made regular trips to the Netherlands to meet Dutch suppliers.
Following the interception of two chicken shipments, and the arrests of two gang members involved, the gang switched tactics. This time it used two corrupt baggage handlers to collect three kilos of high-purity cocaine off a flight from Brazil to London’s Heathrow Airport.
But the NCA was watching their movements, and officers moved in to make arrests as one of the airport workers met Birmingham taxi driver Adnan Ahmed Malik just outside Heathrow. Three kilos of high-purity cocaine were found in a rucksack in the cab.
Wasim and Nazaret Hussain were both in contact with Malik in the run-up to the meeting, and had tried to call him following his arrest.
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 of 2017 another shipment was dispatched from the Netherlands, but Dutch police, who were working with the NCA, removed the drugs.
When the shipment arrived in Birmingham minus the drugs the group knew they had been busted. Wasim Hussain rang his main Dutch criminal contact in panic, telling him: “Throw your phone, throw everything, throw the SIM away.”
NCA officers arrested Wasim Hussain and Mohammed Shabir shortly afterwards. Nazaret Hussain was in the Netherlands at the time, but he was arrested by 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 organized crime group.
Following a five-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Wasim Hussain was found guilty of conspiring to import a class A drug.
A sixth man, Khaiyam Hussain, was found not guilty of participating in an organized crime group.
Following the conclusion of that trial it can now also be reported that Nazarat Hussain was convicted of conspiring to supply a firearm following a trial in January 2019. Three other men had previously been convicted in connection with the offence.
Birmingham Crown Court has sentenced 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, commented: “Throughout the course of this investigation, which has gone on for more than three years, we have systematically dismantled an organized 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.
“We worked our way through the group until we managed to reach the two men at the very top – Wasim Hussain and Nazarat Hussain.
“As we have shown in this case, the NCA will use the full range of its capabilities to comprehensively target and disrupt those involved in organized criminal activity.
“In total more than 98 years of jail sentences have been handed out, and with these men behind bars communities in the West Midlands and beyond are safer.”