Two brothers from the district have been jailed for their part in a plot to smuggle nearly £50m worth of heroin into the UK in a container loaded with towels.
Customs officers discovered the drugs hidden in the container, which arrived at Felixstowe from Pakistan in January, 2012 intended for an address in Batley.
Paul Mitchell, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday there were 592 cardboard boxes inside, giving the impression they held towels. But brown powder was spotted in the fabric of the flaps of one of the boxes.
Officers found 16 packages inside that box, each containing around 124 grammes of high purity heroin.
Of the 592 boxes 124 contained the drug totalling around 245 kilos which would be worth £49.5m on the street.
Drug addict Stuart Maich, who made the arrangements for the importation, had already been jailed for ten and a half years, but further inquiries led officers to Yasser and Waheed Khalil.
Yasser Khalil, 31 and Waheed Khalil, 25, both of Selborne Terrace, Bradford Road, Shipley were each jailed for 18 and a half years after admitting conspiracy to illegally import the drug.
Waheed Khalil, who also admitted possessing crack cocaine and heroin with intent to supply in October, 2012 while on bail, was also given a further three and a half years consecutive, making a total of 22 years for him.
A third brother Fizal Khalil, 35, previously of West Park Terrace, Girlington, Bradford was jailed for five years nine months after he admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply after the drug was found at his home.
Judge Neil Clark said it involved “an extremely large importation.” While they might not be at the very top of the organisation with others still above them, they had played important roles.
He said: “Without your information and connections this importation could not have taken place.”
Mr Mitchell said Maich had used Yasser Khalil’s accountant to help get a VAT number for a business importing fabrics from abroad – in reality the shipment of heroin.
Initially he gave an address in Jacobs Street, Bradford and then later one at a unit in Grange Road Business Park in Batley, the delivery address for the container and both of which Yasser Khalil visited in 2011.
A further link between Khalil and Maich was a mistaken postcode used by him for the Batley address which was also found in an earlier text message sent by Yasser Khalil proving he was “feeding” the information on the address for the delivery.
Mr Mitchell said a freight import firm in London was contracted to deal with the load by Maich and on January 21 that year he was taken there in Waheed Khalil’s Subaru.
Maich also paid the £6,651.75 cash to settle the freight account at the HSBC bank in Shipley less than half a mile from the Khalil’s home.
When officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency went to Maich’s home in Swarland Grove, Little Horton, to arrest him he arrived as a passenger in Waheed’s car.
It was in October that year Waheed committed the further drugs offences while on bail when 105 wraps of crack cocaine worth about £1,500 and 50 wraps of heroin were found at a flat he was using in Bradford as well as £7,390 in cash.
Mr Mitchell said when 151 grammes of cocaine was found at Fizal Khalil’s home in a bag behind the bath panel some £3,000 in cash was also recovered.
Andrew Dallas for Yasser Khalil said they were not the “big players” in the operation. He said there was no high living or extravagant lifestyle.
He said the conspirators had “tapped” his knowledge for business and he had expected some reward but had no idea of the scale involved.
Abdul Iqbal QC for Waheed Khalil said he was a small level street dealer who was an addict himself and who like Maich had got drawn in with the hope of benefit to his own addiction.