Three Nottinghamshire men have been jailed for at least 15 years each for their part in a drugs conspiracy to supply millions of pounds worth of cocaine across the country.
Shazad Ali, his younger brother Shabaz Ali and Zarak Khan were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (9 September), along with ten other men who ran the drugs ring.
Cocaine and other class A drugs, along with £150,000 in cash, were all found when officers from the Nottinghamshire and West Midlands forces swooped on a car spares unit in Bulwell in December last year.
Searches of vehicles at the unit also revealed that the men were harbouring firearms, including a handgun and a shot gun, as well as ammunition, in secret compartments built into the cars.
The three men had become involved in a conspiracy led by Albanian national Asmirald Miraka who orchestrated an operation which saw drugs imported into the UK and distributed to known suppliers in Nottingham, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Miraka co-ordinated three couriers - who were all illegally in the UK - to distribute cocaine between July 2015 and January this year.
One of those deliveries was to the unit in Bulwell on December 10 2015.
Khan and Shazad Ali were observed meeting one of the couriers at the unit by officers from both forces working on this joint operation.
After the courier left the scene, officers went into the unit where Khan and Shazad Ali were arrested and the premises searched.
In total, over ten kilos of Class A drugs, including large pressed blocks of cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine, and a similar quantity of ‘cutting’ agents were seized by officers.
The car being driven by the courier, Arjol Cerriku, was stopped on the A42 as he left Nottinghamshire and was searched. Officers again found a secret compartment in the vehicle, which contained approximately £100,000 in cash.
Further investigation linked Shabaz Ali, brother of Shazad Ali, to the unit and he was arrested at his home in Nottingham on January 28 2016.
All three men were charged and remanded.
Khan and Shazad Ali pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, and possession of heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply. They also admitted possession of the firearms and ammunition.
Shabaz Ali pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, being concerned in the supply of cocaine and possession of heroin with intent to supply.
They were sentenced alongside members of the West Midlands-based gang on Friday, following a six-week trial of five of the men who had pleaded not guilty, but who were ultimately convicted by the jury.
Shazad Ali, 29, of Foxhall Road, Nottingham, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Shabaz Ali, 27, also of Foxhall Road, Nottingham, was sentenced to 15 years and five months in prison.
Zarak Khan, of Vale Crescent South, Nottingham, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Miraka, 25, of Margaret Grove, Harborne, received a sentence of 16 years and three months.
Cerriku, 30, of Haunch Lane, Birmingham, was jailed for ten years and nine months.
Eight other men aged between 22 and 41 received sentences ranging from five years up to ten years and nine months.
Detective Constable James McDonagh, from Nottinghamshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Taskforce, said: “The Ali brothers and Khan had tapped into a very sophisticated drugs supply ring and were enjoying the trappings of flashy lifestyle funded by the profits they were making.
“It did not go unnoticed in their local community and there will be some satisfaction in Nottingham that these men, who were determined to make money from the misery caused by the sale of drugs, are now beginning a lengthy prison sentence. It should be noted that it is not the first time that the Ali brothers have been sent to prison for their willingness to supply drugs.
“We are determined to disrupt and cut off the drugs supply chain wherever and whenever we can. On this occasion, it was down to an excellent joint operation with colleagues from the West Midlands.
“But it also depends on intelligence and information we receive from the public too. If you know anyone who you believe may be involved in the supply of drugs, please telephone us on 101.”
A financial investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act has begun to establish how much the Ali brothers and Khan benefitted from their criminal activity.