Drug gang operating in Blackburn jailed for 50 years after £600,000 of cocaine seized

Four members of a cocaine trafficking gang have been arrested for a total of 50 years after £600,000 of cocaine was seized by police.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 12:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 12:42 pm

Four men have been jailed for a total of 50 years yesterday (February 11).

Yasser Shah ran, 31, ran an organised crime group (OCG) based in Blackburn and Bolton.

Following an investigation by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, over 20kg of high purity cocaine with a wholesale value of over £600,000 was seized.

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Detective Inspector Scott Waddington, from NWROCUs investigations team, said: “Drug dealing causes significant harm in our communities.

"It’s one of the NWROCU’s biggest priorities and our teams are working tirelessly, alongside other law enforcement agencies, to target those involved in the illegal drugs trade, and bring them before the courts.

“This is a great result today, and our streets are that bit safer with these drugs dealers off the streets.”

The gang was involved in running a drugs operation which included moving large quantities of cocaine up from the Midlands to throughout the North of England between March 2018 and May 2019.

600,000 of cocaine was seized by police. (Credit: North West Regional Organised Crime Unit)

Shah controlled a number of couriers who collected, transported and delivered the drugs on his behalf.

The couriers then passed the drugs onto ‘distributors’ who sent the drugs down the supply chain until they eventually got to the ‘street dealers’ who would sell the drugs to cocaine users.

Despite taking steps to avoid police detection, the NWROCU investigation led to a series of arrests and drugs seizures.

Bilal Ashraf, 30, was stopped by police on his way back from Coventry, and was arrested in possession of 10kg kilograms of cocaine on December 13, 2018,

Four members of a cocaine trafficking gang have been arrested for a total of 50 years after. (Credit: North West Regional Organised Crime Unit)

On February 28, 2019, Hassam Rasool, 26, was stopped by police on his way back from Telford.

He was arrested in possession of 10kg of cocaine he had collected from Martin Lewis, 54 - one of the gangs' distributors.

Finally, in May 2019, Gul Bahar, 38, and a second man - who was later acquitted - were arrested in Tesco car park in Halifax after a police search of their vehicle resulted in the seizure of 1kg of cocaine.

Yasser Shah was arrested later on the same day after being stopped by police in the local area and linked to the earlier offences.

Despite taking steps to avoid police detection, the investigation led to a series of arrests and drugs seizures. (Credit: North West Regional Organised Crime Unit)

Those sentenced were:

- Shah, of Thornbank, South Bolton, pleaded guilty at trial and was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

- Ashraf, of Whitewell Place, Blackburn, pleaded guilty at trial and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

- Rasool, of Ryhl Avenue, Blackburn, pleaded guilty at trial and was sentenced 11 years in prison.

- Lewis, of Firbeck Gardens, Stafford, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

- Gul Bahar, from Halifax was convicted and will appear in court for sentencing at a later date.

If anybody has any information about potential drug dealing, contact police on 101 or report it online HERE.

Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their website HERE.