LONDON - Three Indian-origin men along with their two Pakistani accomplices have been sentenced to a total of 95 years in jail by a UK court for running an international drug-smuggling racket to "flood the streets of Britain" with more than 10 million pounds of illegal Class A drugs.
The five men were part of a Leicester-based organised crime gang involved in importing heroin and cocaine hidden in purpose-built secret compartments in furniture, industrial bolts and children's clothes, the Leicestershire Police said.
Jagdish Patel, 51, was found guilty of conspiracy to import and supply cocaine and heroin, and was sentenced to 25 years; Ravindra Modha, 55, was found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine and was sentenced to 16 years; and Paulvinder Randhawa, 47, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and was sentenced to 18 years.
Their Pakistani-origin accomplices Talib Hussain, 59, and Ayaz Hussain, 28 were sentenced to 24 years and 12-and-a-half years respectively by Leicester Crown Court yesterday.
They were engaged in a plot to flood the streets of Britain with more than 10 million pounds of Class A illegal drugs, the court was told.
The gang organised the importation of 60 kg of cocaine, with a street value of 9.6 million pounds, as well as 1 kg of heroin with a street value of 316,000 pounds.
A further shipment of cocaine and heroin, organised by the group, was seized in France, while a shipment of heroin, destined for the UK, was seized in Pakistan.
"Patel and Talib Hussain, with the support of Modha, were drug traffickers of a serious calibre. They were well connected in their trade to import a regular supply of drugs from Pakistan and the Netherlands," said Detective Inspector Harry Rai, who led the operation.
Their racket was thwarted by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), working with the UK's National Crime Agency and law enforcement agencies in the Netherlands, Pakistan and France.
Rai, who was EMSOU's Senior Investigating Officer in the case, said the sentencing marks the end of a very long and complex investigation that was undertaken over a number of months.
"The communities of Leicestershire should be reassured that a significant amount of drugs have been prevented from reaching the streets...
"In my 22 years in policing and 14 years being part of serious and organised crime investigations, I haven't come across anything on this scale," he added.
An investigation was launched by EMSOU after Randhawa was caught by Scotland Yard in 2016 with a batch of bolts with heroin hidden inside.
Working in liaison with the National Crime Agency and law enforcement agencies in the Netherlands, Pakistan and France, British detectives arrested the five men last year after establishing that they were involved in arranging, managing and overseeing the importation of drugs, as well as their distribution within the UK.