A MAN accused of involvement in a gang bringing heroin cut with paracetamol, laxatives, caffeine and valium to Newport denied the charge in interviews, Cardiff Crown Court heard yesterday.

Seven defendants are currently on trial accused of involvement in a multi-million-pound drugs gang based in the city.

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, all deny conspiracy to supply heroin between October 27 last year and January 30 this year.

The jury was told five men have already admitted the same charge.

‘Operation Frank’, set up to investigate the alleged gang, resulted in the largest ever seizure of heroin in Wales, the court heard.

When police stopped a Citroen Xsara on the side of the M5 as it travelled from Newport to Birmingham in January, they found 35.3kg of heroin inside, the court heard, with a street value of around £4.5million.

The heroin in the car ranged from 2 per cent purity to 23 per cent, DC Huw Williams told the jury, and was cut with substances varying from bag to bag.

To illustrate how it would have been sold on the street, he showed the jury a wrap of cocoa powder parcelled as a “ten bag”, around the size of a pea, worth £10.

He explained the drug was known by various street names including skag, junk, horse, bees, brown, black and smack.

Mr Williams said: “Two of the most popular cutting agents at the moment are caffeine and paracetamol, both available in multi-kilo quantities.

“One of the drugs used (phenolphthalein) has carcinogenic qualities so I’m slightly at a loss as to why that would be used. It was developed as a laxative.”

The jury heard transcripts of police interviews with Khalid Yassen, who was driving the Citroen when it was stopped by police on January 30.

Yassen denied knowledge of the illicit cargo, telling police: “Believe me, if I had known there was anything illegal in the car I would have called the police right away. I’m not crazy to destroy my life. I have got a son and a wife.”

He said he had been unemployed but was offered work as a decorator and driver by defendant Umar Butt.