‘Drugsgang werewatched by police’

First published in News by

DEFENDANTS in a drugs trial were seen exchanging a bag in a police surveillance operation, a jury was told.

Seven people are currently on trial accused of involvement in a multimillion pound drugs gang: Newport residents Shazia Ahmed, 37, of Leonard Street and Wasim Ali, 29, of Harrow Road; Zawed Malik, 40, of Tameside, Manchester; and Khalid Yassen, 29, Umar Arif, 28, Tracy Ford, 38, and Umar Butt, all of Cardiff.

Prosecution allege they had varying degrees of involvement in a business dealing “industrial quantities” of the Class A drug, one as the “banker” while others transported heroin or money or provided a safe house for storage. All seven deny conspiracy to supply heroin. Five men including “kingpin” Imtiaz Ali have admitted the same charge between October 27 2013 and January 30 this year, the court heard.

The jury heard statements from officers in the case yesterday which were not in dispute. Officer Simon Davies described seeing defendant Shazia Ahmed pull up in a silver Mercedes at Lidl car park in Newport on January 27 this year.

Aftab Boota, who previously admitted conspiracy to supply heroin, also pulled up in the car park in a VW Golf.

Mr Davies said Ahmed got out of the car and approached Boota’s car where he passed out a plastic bag before driving off.

“As he did this, Ahmed casually threw the bag into the boot of the Mercedes. She then drove out of Lidl car park towards George Street,” Mr Davies said.

The whole incident lasted around 30 seconds, another officer in the case said.

Officers part of Operation Frank also staked out Ebenezer Street in Pill where boss Imtiaz Ali lived, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

They took photographs of Ali from the road outside his house as he was visited by others accused of involvement. ‘Operation Frank’, set up to investigate the alleged gang, came to a head on January 30 when police pulled over defendants Umar Butt and Khalid Yassen on the M5 and found 36.5kg of heroin in the car they were driving, the court heard.

Earlier in January police found Wasim Ali with 3kg of heroin in the taxi he drove for Dragon Taxis in Newport, the court heard. The heroin seized had a street value of “well over £4 million” and was the largest ever seizure of the drug in a Welsh investigation, prosecutor Christopher Rees said. Proceeding.

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