A drug dealer caught smuggling £6.5million of heroin in the back of a taxi on a journey to Manchester has been jailed for 11 years.
Billal Baig, 32, of Isleworth, Middlesex was arrested after police officers from Greater Manchester Police’s Tactical Vehicle Intercept Unit stopped a Mercedes E270 private hire taxi on Chester Road in Mere on May 2 at about 8.55pm.
He was travelling from Abbey Road Studios in London when officers discovered a haul of 22 parcels in a laundry bag and bin bag, that were later expertly tested and revealed high purity heroin of 60% or over.
“This is one of the single biggest recoveries of drugs in the force’s history,” said Detective Inspector Lee Griffin.
“To prevent such vast quantities of drugs, worth millions of pounds, from flooding the streets, is a massive achievement.
“In one fell swoop we put a huge hole in the drugs supply market and today’s sentence reflects great team work from specialist units across the force.”
Baig’s fellow drug dealer Joseph Salmon, 37, also admitted possessing heroin with intent to supply and was jailed for eight years at Minshull Street Crown Court.
The taxi driver – who lives in London – was also arrested but released without charge. He told police how his friend, later identified as Baig, had asked him to take a fare from Abbey Road Studios in London to Manchester and back.
Forensic examination of the drivers phone uncovered messages between him and Baig, with the driver complaining that the £400 fare was insufficient.
Baig told him that he would sort an extra payment from the ‘main man’, suggesting the pick-up was orchestrated by another person.
Baig was arrested some weeks later with support from the Metropolitan Police, following numerous enquiries to identify and locate him. He told police he asked the driver to take Salmon on behalf of another person who he did not know the name of.
“Both Baig and Salmon have failed to provide any proper account or explanation for their actions and while work is ongoing to fully understand who else is might have been involved at either end – in London or Manchester – today they have been given long prison sentences for their involvement,” said Detective Inspector Griffin.
“Put very simply, due to the high purity of the heroin and potential for further adulteration, we have halted hundreds of thousands, if not millions of individual street deals from taking place.
“Drugs generally, but heroin particularly, drive other crime, such as thefts, burglaries and robberies, that are committed by people afflicted by addiction.
“This in turn blights communities and we are always working hard to address this scourge on society. If anyone has information about those concerned in the sale or supply of drugs I would encourage them to call us in confidence.”
Story via Cavendish Press.
Image courtesy of Dimitris Kalogeropoylos, with thanks.