Thirteen charged over UK's 'biggest drugs conspiracy'

media captionA flat in Hammersmith in London was one of the properties raided on Tuesday

Police investigating what they say is the UK's biggest ever drugs conspiracy have charged 13 men.

The charges of conspiracy to import drugs follow a National Crime Agency investigation into the alleged smuggling of billions of pounds of cocaine, heroin and cannabis.

The NCA said the men were suspected of being members of an international organised crime group.

The group appeared at Manchester Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

It comes after the men, aged 34 to 59, were arrested in dawn raids on Tuesday in London, Manchester, Stockport, St Helens, Warrington, Bolton, Dewsbury, and Leeds.

The NCA said seven men were charged with four counts of conspiracy to import class A drugs and four counts of conspiracy to import class B drugs.

They are Paul Green, 54, of Eccleston, St Helens; Sohail Quereshi, 59, of Wood Crescent, White City, London; Mohammed Ovais, 41, of Bournlee Avenue, Burnage, Manchester; Ghazanfar Mahmood, 48, of Green Lane, Bolton; Ifthikar Hussain, 46, of Upland Grove, Leeds, West Yorkshire; Vojtech Dano, 38, of Vulcan Gardens, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire and Ivan Turtak, 34, of Vulcan Gardens, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

A further six men were charged with two counts of conspiracy to import class A drugs and two counts of conspiracy to import class B drugs.

They are Khaleed Vazeer, 56, of Westwood Avenue, Timperley, Manchester; Steven Martin, 48, of Chorley Old Road, Bolton; Andrew Reilly, 37, of Grange Park Road, St Helens; Mark Peers, 55, of Norbeck Close, Warrington; Paul Ruane, 58, of Bewsey Rd, Warrington and Oliver Penter, 37, of Gladstone Street, Stockport.

All 13 men are due to appear at Manchester Crown Court on 7 November.

Four men and two women from the Netherlands - who were arrested in April by the Dutch National Police on European Arrest Warrants - are currently awaiting extradition to the UK.