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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Drugs in chicken shipments: Sikh brothers face jail in UK

Heroin and cocaine worth around £5 million were seized from the shipments.

chandigarh Updated: Nov 30, 2019 01:38 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Hindustantimes
         

Brothers Manjinder Singh Thakhar and Davinder Singh Thakhar, who were part of a Birmingham-based organised crime group that smuggled drugs worth millions of pounds by hiding them in chicken shipments from the Netherlands, face jail after they pleaded guilty.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the group was led by Wasim Hussain and Nazarat Hussain, who have been jailed by the Birmingham Crown Court for a combined sentence of nearly 44 years. The Thakhar brothers are due to be sentenced on January 20.

Officials said that on three occasions, heroin and cocaine worth around £5 million were seized hidden in chicken shipments. The imports began in June 2016 and continued into 2017. After the first two seizures, the group set up a new company to try and cover their tracks.

They would use genuine shipping companies to move loads from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to distribution hubs where they would be collected by members of the group. The shipments were set up by Nazarat Hussain, who made regular trips to the Netherlands to meet suppliers.

Following the interception of two chicken shipments and the arrest of two gang members, the gang switched tactics, using two corrupt baggage handlers to collect three kg of high-purity cocaine off a flight from Brazil to Heathrow.

But NCA officials were watching their moves, and officers moved in to make arrests as one of the airport workers met Birmingham taxi driver Adnan Ahmed Malik just outside the airport. Three kg of high-purity cocaine was found in a rucksack in the taxi.

In June 2017, another shipment was dispatched from the Netherlands, but the drugs were removed by Dutch police, who were working with the NCA. When it arrived in Birmingham minus the drugs the group knew they had been busted.

Wasim Hussain rang his main Dutch criminal contact in panic, telling him “throw your phone, throw everything, throw the SIM away.” Wasim Hussain and Mohammed Shabir were arrested by NCA officers shortly afterwards.

Colin Williams of the NCA said: “Throughout the course of this investigation, which has gone on for more than three years, we have systematically dismantled an organised crime group that was involved in the importation and distribution of Class A drugs across the West Midlands”.

He said, “The gang also attempted to source firearms, presumably to be used to threaten others in support of their criminality”.