Lancashire man involved in £5.6m ‘frozen chicken’ drug plot ordered to pay up

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He is currently serving a 12 year sentence but has been told to repay proceeds from the operation.

An accomplice to a multi-million pound operation to hide Class A drugs inside ‘frozen chicken’ vans had been ordered to pay back anything he made from the conspiracy.

39-year-old Sohail Ali, is currently servicing a 12 year prison sentence after being sentenced in 2022 for his involvement with a major drug operation which spanned across East Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

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The operation was run by Bolton drug boss Irtiza Bashir and now the two have been brought before the courts and ordered to repay the amounts made from the operation.

Prosecutor Neil Fryman said: “The total benefit comes to £5,607,969.64, so this comes to just over £5.6M.”

Sohail Ali (right) and Irtiza Bashir (left) (Image: North West Regional Organised Crime Unit/GMP)Sohail Ali (right) and Irtiza Bashir (left) (Image: North West Regional Organised Crime Unit/GMP)
Sohail Ali (right) and Irtiza Bashir (left) (Image: North West Regional Organised Crime Unit/GMP)

A trial held in 2022 heard how Blackburn man Ali and his boss Bashir, 46, had plotted to flood the region with Class A drugs using the Encrochat messaging platform.

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The trial heard how Bashir, who has since been jailed for more than 20 years, was involved in supplying 537 kilograms of drugs with a street value of £40,740,000.

Ali’s role in the plan was to arrange the collection and delivery of the drugs which had been smuggled in from the Netherlands in frozen chicken vans.

Eventually, police managed to hack into the messaging system which led to raids of Bashir’s homes in Lostock and business premises, Globe Recycling Services in Haslingden.

These raids uncovered further evidence resulting in Bashir being convicted and jailed for a total of 23 years in September 2022.

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In October 2022, Ali, of Revidge Road, Blackburn, admitted to importing Class A drugs and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was jailed for 12 years and nine months.

Detective Inspector Darren Taylor from the Operations Team at the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit said  "The sentencing of these men will undoubtedly have resulted in significant disruption to the supply of Class A drugs in the North West.

"This is the latest in a long line of convictions secured against those who used the Encrochat facility to carry out crimes, to try and evade detection.”

After being brought back before the courts as part of a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, Ali has been ordered to pay a total of £26,941.50 within three months and will have a period in default of one year.

Judge Jon Close also ordered that the drugs, paraphernalia and any mobile phones seized as part of the case be destroyed.

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