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23 years for pair trying to smuggle heroin in carpets
Two men have been jailed for a total of 23 years for a cunning and sophisticated plot to smuggle £500,000 of heroin into the country woven into carpets.
The drugs ring was foiled when a spike was driven into rolled carpets by Customs officials at Heathrow Airport.
Ansar Mahmood, 42, of Hollings Road, Girlington, Bradford, was imprisoned for 12 years.
Bradford Crown Court heard his role in the conspiracy was to take delivery of heroin parcels at his home.
Hamid Khan, 31, of Burnley, described by the judge as UK controller of the drugs ring, was locked up for 11 years.
He pleaded guilty to conspiring to import Class A drugs between January 1 and April 25 last year.
Mahmood denied the charge and was convicted by a jury in July.
Judge Jonathan Rose told the men they were motivated by personal greed.
He said: “Each of you played an active and significant role in the importation of a very large amount of heroin into the UK for onward distribution and sale.”
Mahmood was found guilty on overwhelming evidence and had shown no remorse.
Judge Rose said the men’s wives, both left caring for young children, were having to pay for their greed and criminality.
Prosecutor Tom Storey said four consignments, totalling almost ten kilograms of heroin, were seized.
The first package, containing three sets of rolled carpets, was posted in Kyrgyzstan, addressed to H Khan at Mahmood’s home.
Customs officials at Heathrow Airport found fine plastic tubes packed with 7.35 kilograms of heroin woven into the carpets. The drug had a street value of £368,000. It took investigators two weeks to unpick the drugs from just one rug.
Undercover police officers delivered dummy packages of carpets to Mahmood on April 22 last year.
Minutes after his arrest, another parcel turned up at the address, Mr Storey said. Posted in Islamabad, it contained 123 pouches of heroin hidden in a jacket lining.
A third parcel, marked “return to sender” was posted to Pakistan from Bradford. It was intercepted at Leeds Parcelforce depot on its way to Hollings Road with 56 pouches of heroin concealed in a fleecy jacket lining.
The fourth consignment was also “return to sender”. It was posted in Burnley to Attock in Pakistan and seized in Coventry on its way back.
It was packed with eight containers of Johnson’s Baby Powder stuffed with heroin.
Mr Storey said Khan’s phone was contaminated with heroin showing he may have been concerned in packing the drug.
Khadim Al’Hassan, Mahmood’s barrister, said he was paid £110 to take delivery of the carpets. Unable to read or write, he was a man of modest means at the bottom of the enterprise.
Yunus Valli, for Khan, said he was not a main player. He was a shopfitter who ran a car sales business.
After the case, Detective Inspector Pete Darbyshire, of West Yorkshire Police Crime Division, said: “We welcome the sentences passed today and hope they send out a strong message that the importation of drugs into West Yorkshire will not be tolerated.
“The methods of concealment used to import the heroin were very sophisticated. However, thanks to the vigilance of those who monitor what enters the country, the drugs were taken out of circulation and the conspirators’ plan thwarted.”