Four members of organised crime gang jailed for more than 30 years for supplying heroin and crack cocaine in Accrington

A gang who supplied heroin and crack cocaine in in East Lancashire have been jailed for a combined total of more than 30 years.

By Sean Gleaves
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 6:53 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2022, 6:53 pm

Lancashire Police launched Operation Melford in October 2020 after residents raised concerns about drug-related activity around St Leger Court, Accrington.

Telephone and CCTV enquiries later revealed the ‘Soldier Line’ – a drug supply operation – was being operated from that area of the town.

Following an intense investigation, Waqas Khan, Eshan Monshur, Junaid Khan, and Basha Ullah were jailed for a combined total of more than 30 years.

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Four other people were also prosecuted for knowingly allowing their premises to be used for the supply of Class A drugs.

Det Chief Insp Tim Brown, of East Division, said: “I am pleased with these significant custodial sentences handed down by the court.

“I hope that they send out a strong message that Lancashire Police and the courts will not tolerate the behaviour of OCGs who seek to profit from the most vulnerable in society by selling Class A drugs.”

How was the gang caught?

Four members of an organised crime group which operated a dedicated drugs line in Accrington have been jailed. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

On October 12, 2020, defendant Waqas Khan was arrested at a property in Exchange Street.

While officers made their way through a reinforced door, they could hear the sound of a toilet being repeatedly flushed.

Inside the property officers found scales containing heroin and crack cocaine as well as £1,000 in cash.

A search of Khan’s home address in College Street, Accrington, unearthed a phone containing messages linked to the supply of heroin and crack cocaine.

Waqas Khan, 28, was jailed for 10 years and six months. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

On the evening of October 12, officers executed a warrant at an address in Catlow Hall Street, Oswaldtwistle.

Present in the address was Khan, who had been released on bail earlier in the day.

After forcing their way into a barricaded bedroom, officers saw Khan and his co-defendant Eshan Monshur jump from a window.

Eyewitnesses would later confirm a total of four people had jumped from the window.

Junaid Khan, 22, was jailed for 12 years and eight months. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

A phone belonging to Monshur was found close to the address and Khan was arrested in the grounds of a nearby school.

£5,000 worth of heroin and crack cocaine and a number of mobile phones were found inside the bedroom of the property in Catlow Hall Street.

The homeowner, Lawrie Dunn, was arrested and an examination of her mobile phone showed she was aware illegal activity was taking place inside the property.

This included conversations about the OCG bagging up and supplying drugs from her address which she had with her co-defendant Anastacia Dearden.

Dearden confirmed she had also let defendant Basha Ullah bag up drugs at her address.

A short time after officers discovered the drugs, a taxi containing Monshur and defendants Mohammed Mushtaq and Junaid Khan was spotted in Catlow Hall Street.

Eshan Monshur, 20, was jailed for four years and six months. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

All three were suspected of being the other people who had jumped from the window.

A search of Khan revealed he had crack cocaine hidden in his boxer shorts.

Mushtaq’s fingerprints were found on the packaging of the drugs recovered from Catlow Hall Street.

Examination of Monshur’s phone revealed Ullah had been dealing drugs for the OCG.

When he was stopped on November 9, he was found in possession of scales, cash and a mobile phone.

An examination of that phone revealed a mass of messages relating to the supply of drugs.

The following day Waqas Khan was stopped in the company of a local drug user and found to be in possession of two bags of cannabis and cocaine.

What were their sentences?

- Waqas Khan, 28, now of no fixed address but formerly of College Street, Accrington, was convicted of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

He was jailed for 10 years and six months.

- Junaid Khan, 22, of Lime Road, Accrington, was charged with was convicted of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

He was jailed for 12 years and eight months.

- Eshan Monshur, 20, of Arnold Close, Blackburn, was convicted of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

He was jailed for four years and six months.

- Basha Ullah, 36, now of no fixed address but formerly of Richmond Hill Street, Accrington, was convicted of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

He was jailed for three years and nine months.

- Mushtaq will be sentenced at a later date.

What happened to the people who knowingly allowed their homes to be used for the supply of Class A drugs?

As a result of evidence uncovered as part of Operation Melford, four people pleaded guilty to allowing premises to be used for the supply of Class A drugs and were sentenced earlier this year.

- Natalie Butt, 51, of St Leger Court, Accrington, was given a 12-month community order, with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a nine-month drug dependency treatment order.

- John Owen,51, of St Leger Court, Accrington, was given a 12-month community order, 100 hours unpaid work and a 3o rehabilitation activity requirement days.

- Lawrie Dunn, 37, of Cross Street, Oswaldtwistle, was given an 18-month community order, with 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a nine-month drug dependency treatment order.

- Anastacia Dearden, 26, of Hood Street, Accrington, was given a 12-month community order, with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a six-month drug dependency treatment order.

“If you suspect criminal activity is taking place in your area, I would encourage you to contact the police, confident that we will take the appropriate action,” Det Chief Insp Tim Brown added.

Basha Ullah, 36, was jailed for three years and nine months. (Credit: Lancashire Police)
Heroin and crack cocaine was found in the bedroom of a property in Catlow Hall Street. (Credit: Lancashire Police)