Three Luton men are among 13 members of a UK-wide drugs network which has now been jailed for a combined total of more than 129 years.
The final three members of the organised crime group (OCG) were sentenced today (Wednesday, January 5), bringing to a close a lengthy investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) into the illicit drugs ring which peddled class A substances across the country.
The combined sentence of 129 years and nine months is the biggest ever jail term secured by ERSOU’s regional organised crime unit (ROCU).
The group, which was spearheaded by brothers Ansar and Ajmal Akram from Hemel Hempstead, used encrypted phones to organise exchanges of multiple kilogrammes of cocaine at a time up and down the country, selling the drugs to other gangs and wholesale drug dealers for onward distribution.
Over a six-month period in 2019, specialist officers from ERSOU investigated the group as they travelled the length and breadth of the country including to Luton, Yorkshire, Dorset, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Northampton and Buckinghamshire.
Waseem Khan, 38, of Carrisbrooke Road, Luton, was a senior member of the group who acted as a middle man for multiple customers, brokering drug deals nationwide. He was jailed following a hearing at St Albans Crown Court today (January 5) for 15 years.
Also jailed today were Mohammed Jahangeer, 39, of Ribston Walk, Sheffield, Yorkshire, and Taswir Mohammed, 39, of Stoke Road, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
They were customers of the business, buying kilogramme blocks of cocaine at a time for onward sale across the Sheffield and Aylesbury areas. They were jailed for 11 and eight years respectively.
Following the final sentencing, Detective Inspector Ian Mawdseley said: “The hearing today brings to a close a lengthy and complex investigation into this nation-wide drugs supply network.
“Thanks to the determination and tireless efforts of our officers, some very dangerous individuals are now facing a significant time behind bars and we’ve halted a supply of huge quantities of class A drugs into communities across the country.”
Ansar Akram 34, of Thumpers, Hemel Hempstead, headed up the organised crime group and was jailed for 15 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and possession of criminal property.
Ajmal Akram, 31, also of Thumpers, was Ansar’s lieutenant within the OCG and was jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and possession of criminal property.
The other senior member of the group was Rahoof Khan, 27, also of Thumpers, who orchestrated the OCG’s couriers, as well as acting as one himself on several occasions. He was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in jail in December after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
The group had three regular couriers who were responsible for ferrying the class A drugs up and down the country, returning to Hemel Hempstead with bags containing thousands of pounds at a time. They were:
> Wasim Afzal, 44, from St Margaret’s Avenue, Luton, jailed for 11 years and nine months.
> Sarfraz Asif, 40, of Dordans Road, Luton, jailed for four and a half years.
> Jameel Khan, 27, of Winchester Street, Nottingham, jailed for 10 years.
The following men were customers of the group, buying multiple kilogrammes of cocaine for onward sale in their local areas:
> Ahsan Mahmood, 50, of Southlands Avenue, Peterborough, jailed for 11 and a half years.
> Ben Lewis, 29, of St Swithins Road, Bridport, Dorset, jailed for seven years and two months.
> Ali Zarei, 26, of Derngate, Northampton, was jailed for five years and four months.
> Ryan Brockley, 36, of Deepdale, Leicester, jailed for five years.
Hannah Wilkinson, Head of ERSOU ROCU, said: “Our unit uses a range of specialist tactics to tackle those at the top end of the drugs supply network and I’m really pleased that, thanks to the tenacity of our officers, we’ve secured our biggest ever combined jail sentence.
“Although criminals at the very top of the chain can seem removed from the devastating impact of drug dealing, the actions of people involved in such groups can still have terrible consequences for those living within our communities; from the vulnerable users who are exploited by the ruthless criminals out to make as much as they can, to those affected by the wide ranging criminality that comes about as a result of drugs supply.
“That’s why we’re committed to continuing to use our cutting edge capabilities to ensure we leave no stone unturned in our fight against those involved in the supply business, both within the eastern region and beyond.”