men, aged between 24 and 59, were apprehended during dawn raids on,
Tuesday (October 8) in London, Manchester, Stockport, St Helens, Warrington,
Bolton, Dewsbury, and Leeds and charged on Wednesday evening with
conspiracies to import class A and B drugs.
The following individuals were charged with four counts of conspiracy to import class A drugs and four counts of conspiracy to import class B drugs – Paul Green of Eccleston, St Helens; Sohail Quereshi of Wood Crescent, White City, London; Mohammed Ovais of Bournlee Avenue, Burnage, Manchester; Ghazanfar Mahmood of Green Lane, Bolton; Ifthikar Hussain of Upland Grove, Leeds, West Yorkshire; Vojtech Dano of Vulcan Gardens, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire; and Ivan Turtak of Vulcan Gardens, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
Khaleed Vazeer of Westwood Avenue, Timperley, Manchester; Steven Martin of Chorley Old Road, Bolton; Andrew Reilly of Grange Park Road, St Helens; Mark Peers of Norbeck Close, Warrington; Paul Ruane of Bewsey Rd, Warrington; Oliver Penter of Gladstone Street, Stockport, were all charged with two counts of conspiracy to import class A drugs and two counts of conspiracy to import class B drugs.
They have been remanded in custody to appear at Manchester Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday 10 October).
The 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.
They are believed to be part of the UK arm of a well-established organised crime group that used Dutch and British front companies to import heroin, cocaine and cannabis – secreted within lorry loads of vegetables and juice – through UK ports over an 18-month period.
Four men and two women from the Netherlands were also arrested in April 2019 by the Dutch National Police on European Arrest Warrants. They are currently awaiting extradition to the UK.
Jayne Lloyd, National Crime Agency (NCA) Regional Head of Investigations, said: “The NCA targets organised crime groups causing the greatest harm to the UK. “Stopping criminals who don’t care about the damage they are causing in communities, and the children being exploited by County Lines drug dealing, is an absolute priority.
“We suspect these men were involved in an industrial-scale operation – the biggest ever uncovered in the UK – bringing in tonnes of deadly drugs that were distributed to crime groups throughout the country.
“By working closely with partners here and overseas, in particular the Dutch National Police, we believe we have dismantled a well-established drug supply route.”
Europol, Eurojust, Police of Finland National Bureau of Investigation, Border Force, HMRC and numerous police forces have also supported the NCA with the investigation. The full extent of the drug trafficking operation the NCA allege these men were involved in was uncovered following the interception of three consignments in September 2018.
They contained 351 kilos of cocaine, 92 kilos of heroin, 250 kilos of cannabis and 1,850 kilos of hemp/hashish, with a total street value of more than £38 million.
Subsequent enquiries led officers to believe they had imported drugs on numerous occasions between February 2017 and October 2018. This investigation linked to an NCA operation, where 13 individuals were jailed for a total of 176 years, after the seizure of more than 100kg of heroin in 2015.