A Bradford family man, who played a leading role in a £2m drugs importation conspiracy, has been jailed for 16 years.
Mohammed Naveed, 36, was caught trying to bring more than £650,000 of heroin, hidden in the sleeves of cigarette packets, through Leeds Bradford Airport.
But he was also linked in the conspiracy to separate arrests at Manchester Airport of two other Bradford men and further seizures of heroin worth more than £1.5m.
Prosecutor David Hall told Leeds Crown Court yesterday that the street value of the drugs seized was between £2.19m and £2.72m.
Mr Hall said that Naveed had played a leading role in the conspiracy and had been involved in directing, organising and buying on a commercial scale.
Naveed, of Whetley Lane, Girlington, Bradford, had denied importing a class A drug and two charges of conspiracy to import heroin, but was convicted by a jury.
Sentencing him, Judge Guy Kearl QC told the married father-of-three he had lost his business and his reputation.
The judge said: “People who import class A drugs in substantial quantities are playing for very high stakes – both in terms of the value of the drugs to them, and the consequences if they are caught.
“Class A drugs, in particular heroin, bring misery to those who become dependant upon them.”
Judge Kearl said Naveed was not a mere courier and, at the very least, had played an organising or managerial role. He had close links to a source of the drugs in Pakistan and had used his business as a cover, allowing him to travel to Pakistan once or twice a month.
The court heard that co-conspirator Mohammed Siddique was arrested at Manchester Airport after arriving on a flight from Islamabad in January. He had more than five kilograms of heroin hidden in cigarette packets. Siddique, 60, of Bradford, was jailed for five years and four months at Manchester Crown Court. Naveed flew to Pakistan with Siddique, but they returned separately.
The judge told Naveed: “You were overseeing what he did, both in this country and in Pakistan.”
In May, another Bradford conspirator, Sharaz Khan, was arrested at Manchester Airport from Islamabad, with nearly six kilograms of heroin, with a street value of more than £1.3million. It had been concealed in an identical way. Khan, 21, of Butler Street West, Barkerend, Bradford, was jailed for four years at Manchester Crown Court.
Naveed, who was being sought in connection with the investigation, was detained as he came through Leeds-Bradford Airport from a flight from Islamabad on June 27. He had a shoulder bag containing the hidden heroin. When he realised he was going to be stopped he dumped the bag on a conveyor belt, but the luggage was spotted by airline staff who alerted Customs officers.
Naveed’s barrister, Tina Landale, said none of his family knew of his disgrace, including his 67-year-old father who had suffered a heart attack in Pakistan two days ago. He would lose the respect of his family and community.
Pete Avery, of Border Force, said after the case: “The sentence handed out today sends a strong deterrent message to anyone thinking of smuggling drugs into the UK. We have robust controls in place at all our ports and airports. We will catch you and you will pay with your liberty.
“Border Force is at the forefront of the fight to stop drugs, weapons, other contraband and illegal immigrants entering the UK and our officers are on constant alert to keep them out of the country.”