Police recovered more than £3 million of heroin.
A sophisticated drugs gang have been jailed for more than 200 years after a complex police investigation smashed their operation.
The final seven criminals were sent to prison yesterday (18 December) during a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court after police recovered more than £3 million of heroin.
Over a three year period detectives also uncovered two firearms and hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash linked to the group.
In total 20 other criminals have been jailed as part of the sophisticated investigation which has snared £3.5million worth of drugs destined for the streets.
The focus of the latest court hearings was 30-year-old Zaheer Hussain who was found to be running the organised crime group who were importing and distributing heroin in Birmingham.
Officers will now be using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to recoup money the gang made and put it back into the public purse.
Detective Inspector Martin Brennan, who oversaw the investigation, said: “This was the final chapter of an extremely complex investigation against a network of criminals who were distributing huge amounts of heroin in Birmingham.
“Zaheer Hussain’s network was far reaching and he was able to facilitate the importation of heroin and its supply around the UK and he even held a degree of control over street supply here in Birmingham.
“Not only has our operation taken cash and drugs off the street but we also recovered two firearms which in the wrong hands could have proved deadly.
“It’s impossible to quantify the impact that this amount of class A drugs would have had on our communities in Birmingham − thankfully it will now never reach our streets and these criminals are facing a long time behind bars.
“This was a painstaking investigation and I want to praise all of the officers and CPS involved for smashing this network and bringing the offenders to justice.
“However this investigation is not over and we will be using POCA to ensure the cash is re-invested back into community projects.”
A large scale operation was launched in the summer of 2010 after intelligence suggested Zaheer Hussain, of Roland Road in Lozells, was running the business and detectives began by reviewing previous drugs seizures to work out if he had been involved.
These inquiries quickly linked him to two seizures of heroin in August 2009 and March 2010 worth around £250,000. Then in August 2010 and July 2011 two more substantial seizures of heroin were made − fingerprints were lifted from the second one which linked back to an associate of Zaheer Hussain, Habib Hussain.
In October 2011 Habib Hussain was stopped while driving to Birmingham and was found with £150,000 worth of heroin in the car. He denied all involvement, but detectives were able to show that he had met with members of the wider organised crime group.
As the investigation continued several key players in his organisation were identified, namely Haroon Ali, Nasim Mohammed, Habib Husain, Mohammed Asim Aslam and Shaker Ali. Another man, Louis Lockett, was also identified as acting as a ‘courier’ for the group.
Lockett was linked to the group after police stopped him in his vehicle travelling towards Birmingham in possession of seven kilos of caffeine and paracetamol − commonly used to cut and bulk out heroin.
Surveillance was carried out on all those involved to build more evidence− particularly around Zaheer Hussain. This resulted in key evidence being uncovered that linked him to criminals in Pakistan who were arranging imports of heroin to the UK. These enquiries resulted in the interception of £300,000 worth of heroin before it even left the country.
It soon became clear that Hussain was being supported by Asim Aslam to arrange the imports and ‘money man’ Haroon Ali was looking after the management of the millions of pounds of cash involved.
Detectives uncovered a flat in Birmingham city centre which Haroon Ali was renting and using to store and count millions of pounds. In April 2012 officers stopped him driving his car in the city and uncovered £167,000 cash in the vehicle and after searching the flat found a further £160,000. Officers also found a notebook in the flat which detailed transactions topping £1 million that had taken place in the previous seven days. Investigations led police to another man, Shaker Ali, and when officers carried out a warrant at his Aston home they found wraps of drugs ready for street supply and phones that linked back to Zaheer Hussain.
Zaheer Hussain was arrested in June 2012. Detectives found that he had been living between a series of up-market hotels in the Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield areas.
However when he was arrested he had nothing in his possession other than the designer clothes he was wearing and a Brietling watch worth £7,500.
All seven men went silent during police interviews and all were charged with conspiring to import and supply heroin.
Following a 12-week trial at Stafford Crown Court the six men were found guilty – Haroon Ali had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
At Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday (18 December) Zaheer Hussain was handed a 20 year jail sentence. Haroon Ali, 26, of Cherry Tree Avenue Walsall was jailed for 10 years; Mohammed Asim Aslam, 29, of Selston Road, Aston, was jailed for 12 years; Habib Hussain, 34, of Hope Street, West Bromwich, was jailed for nine years; Nasim Mohammed, 29, of Selston Road, Aston, was jailed for five years; Shaker Ali, 27, of Arden Road, Aston, was jailed for four years and Louis Lockett, 30, of Willbraham Road in Manchester, was jailed for four years.