Bolton drugs gang caught with £600k of cocaine jailed

Yasser Shah, Hassam Rasool, Martin Lewis and Bilal Ashraf Image copyright NWOCU
Image caption Yasser Shah, Hassam Rasool, Martin Lewis and Bilal Ashraf have been jailed for their involvement

A drugs gang caught with cocaine with an estimated street value of £600,000 have been jailed.

Ringleader Yasser Shah, from Bolton, ran a group which transported drugs from the Midlands to the north of England, police said.

Officers seized 21kg (46lb) of cocaine in raids on the gang who ran the operation from Bolton and Blackburn.

Shah was sentenced at Bradford Crown Court to 17 years on Tuesday, three other men also jailed.

The North West Organised Crime Unit said the gang moved large quantities of the class A drug between March 2018 and May 2019.

Shah controlled couriers who collected, transported and delivered the drugs on his behalf, it said.

The couriers then passed the drugs on to "distributors" who sent the drugs down the supply chain.

Image copyright NWOCU
Image caption The gang was involved in running a drugs operation across the country

Bilal Ashraf was stopped by police on his way back from Coventry on 13 December 2018 and was found with 10kg of cocaine.

On 28 February 2019, Hassam Rasool was stopped returning from Telford and arrested in possession of 10kg of cocaine he had collected from Martin Lewis.

The following May, Gul Bahar was arrested in Tesco car park in Halifax after a police officers seized 1kg of the drug in the vehicle he was in.

Shah was arrested later the same day after being stopped by police and linked to the earlier offences.

Shah, Rasool and Ashraf pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine on 5 February while Lewis had pleaded guilty to the same offence on 26 July 2019.

• Yasser Shah, 31, of Tenby Close, Blackburn, sentenced to 17 years

• Hassam Rasool, 26, of Rhyl Avenue, Blackburn, sentenced to 11 years

• Martin Lewis, 54, of Chain Lane, Stafford, given nine years

• Bilal Ashraf, 30, of no fixed address, handed five years, which he will serve after finishing his current sentence

A fifth man Gul Bahar, 38, of Park Terrace, Halifax will be sentenced on 22 May.

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