BIRMINGHAM: Two Birmingham brothers who ran a £300,000 drugs network into Hereford have been jailed for 16 years – the latest success for a police operation targeting ‘County Lines’ dealers in the West Midlands.
Sharaz and Ikhlas Hussain, from Bevington Road in Aston, used more than 50 different phones to advertise and promote their drugs business to around 200 customers via regular text messages.
It’s suspected they peddled upwards of 3.5kg of heroin and crack cocaine onto the streets of Hereford before they were exposed by a covert operation run by the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit and West Mercia Police.
The surveillance sting captured video evidence showing Sharaz Hussain taking orders on his drugs hotline – and on one occasion was seen coordinating a drug delivery while walking around Mothercare in Erdington’s Fort Shopping Centre.
Ikhlas Hussain oversaw the flow of drugs to Hereford where Serges Zubkovs, from St James Street in Hereford, managed the street-level supply. Gareth Davies, from Campbell Close in Hereford, was also identified as a drug runner for the brothers’ County Line.
Police moved in to arrest 30-year-old Sharaz on 5 June last year at an address in Milsom Grove, Shard End, where he was found lying next to almost half a kilo of heroin and the primary Paco drugs phone.
His brother, aged 25, and Davies (38) were arrested from their home addresses on the same day, while 30-year-old Zubkovs was arrested from HMP Hewell where he was serving time for unrelated offences.
All four members of the gang went on to admit conspiring to supply Class A drugs and at Worcester Crown Court on 17 April they Sharaz and Ikhlas Hussain were jailed for eight years four months and seven years eight months respectively.
Zubkovs was given a four year eight month prison sentence, while Davies was handed a three year four month term behind bars. It’s the latest success for a West Midlands and West Mercia Police campaign – codenamed Operation Ballet – targeting County Lines drugs networks.
A total of 10 such drugs chains were identified and suspects arrested during an offensive in May last year that saw dozens of men detained.
To date, 26 offenders have been jailed for a combined total of almost 130 years.
West Midlands Police Detective Inspector Julie Woods, said: “The scale and organisation of the Hussains’ operation was the most significant ever identified within Hereford: it’s estimated they were making around £1,500 a day.
“Sharaz took orders on the drugs hotlines from what he believed was a safe distance in Birmingham, making most of the money while foot soldiers took on the biggest risk fulfilling drugs orders on the streets on his behalf.
“However, unbeknown to him we had both brothers under surveillance and gathered compelling evidence against the pair, enough for them both to plead guilty at court.
“Their drug dealing would have caused untold misery on the streets of Hereford and fuelled crime in the city, while they revelled in their drugs money. They’ve rightly been handed lengthy jail terms – and anyone else involved in County Lines dealing can expect a similar fate.”
West Midlands Police will now pursue the Hussains’ ill-gotten gains through a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) application through the courts. Any cash or assets suspected of coming from drug dealing can be seized with the money being ploughed back into crime prevention and community projects.
Anyone who suspects drug dealing in their community – or believes someone is being exploited to deal drugs – can pass information to West Midlands Police by calling 101 or via Live Chat at WMP Online from 8am till midnight. Alternatively, call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.