SIX members of an organised crime gang involved in a conspiracy to flood the streets of Newport with heroin were jailed for nearly 45 years.

The city’s crown court heard how their drugs empire was smashed by police who used covert surveillance and mobile phone analysis to topple them.

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Prosecutor Andrew Jones said Altaf Hussain, of Munnings Drive, Newport, who already had three previous convictions for supplying heroin despite being just 22, was the “head” of the gang.

South Wales Argus:

Altaf Hussain

Ryan Moody, aged 23, of Bishpool View, Newport, also played a leading role in the criminal enterprise and was in contact with “upstream supply” traffickers from the West Midlands.

South Wales Argus:

Ryan Moody

Mr Jones told the court how Sageer Abbas, 28, played a significant role in the conspiracy as did his brother Zain Abbas, aged 21, both of Glebe Street, Newport.

South Wales Argus:

Sageer Abbas

South Wales Argus:

Zain Abbas

Rizwan Raza, aged 29, of Harrow Road, Newport, who also had two previous convictions for possessing heroin with intent to supply, was working for the “main players”.

South Wales Argus:

Rizwan Raza

Mr Jones told Judge Daniel Williams mother-of-two, Tara Jones, 27, of Laburnum Drive, Newport, was “undoubtedly working for Moody” following telephone analysis.

South Wales Argus:

Tara Jones

Hussain was jailed for 10 years, Moody eight years and eight months, Sageer Abbas seven years and four months, Zain Abbas six years, Raza seven years and four months and Jones for five years.

All six defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin.

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The investigation into the gang, called Operation Jackdaw1, was carried out by Tarian, the regional organised crime unit, supported by Gwent Police and South Wales Police.

Mr Jones said that heroin worth nearly £700,000 was seized after two raids in Newport.

The first took place on April 10, 2018 at Jones’ house in Laburnum Drive followed by another at a house in St Mary Street where Zain Abbas lived at the time with his partner on May 23.

Zain Abbas’ 19-year-old girlfriend Brittany Higgs was initially charged with conspiracy to supply heroin but she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of allowing premises to be used for the supply of class A drugs and received a six-month conditional discharge.

An eighth defendant, Amrik Singh, aged 52, of St Albans Road, Smethwick, Sandwell, near Birmingham, the link with the West Midlands end of the chain, is due to be sentenced at Newport Crown Court on Friday, February 1.

He also admitted conspiracy to supply heroin.

Rosamund Rutter, representing Hussain, said the best mitigation she could put forward was that he had entered a guilty plea at the very first opportunity.

Nicholas Gedge, for construction industry worker Moody, said his client was a talented rugby and football player who hoped to use his time in custody by studying an Open University course.

Gareth Williams, mitigating for Sageer Abbas, put forward that the defendant was an “underling” in the operation who was an addict when he was arrested and had a “gambling habit”.

David Maunder, for Raza, told Judge Williams that the former Tesco worker was a “keen cricketer” who had brought “shame” on his family.

Rhodri Chudleigh, representing Zain Abbas, said the £150-a-week former fast food outlet employee had no relevant previous convictions.

Harry Baker, for Jones, said there had been “no evidence of any high living” on her part from drug dealing.

Giles Hayes, mitigating for Higgs, said she had spent 156 days in custody and had never been before the courts before.

Judge Williams condemned the six who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

He said: “Heroin is a vile drug which ruins lives. Each of you had important roles in sustaining the addictions of countless, nameless users of this drug.”

Outside the court, Detective Chief Inspector Julian Bull, of Tarian, said: “This was a very detailed investigation which was run by Tarian and has brought to justice eight people involved in the supply of heroin in the Newport area.

“Operation Jackdaw is an investigation into the criminal activities of an organised crime group responsible for the distribution of large amounts of class A drugs into south Wales.

“Throughout the investigation, we’ve been able to prove that organised crime groups such as this have been responsible for bringing heroin worth millions in to south Wales.

“There is a human cost to the trade of supplying drugs, and we will work tirelessly to stop this.

“I cannot over-emphasise the dangers of heroin and the harm it can cause to the community as a whole.

“It is good to know that these criminals are now behind bars and unable to continue profiting from the misery their trade brings to our neighbourhoods.

“We will continue to target others involved in the illegal drugs trade and I urge anyone with information or suspicions to call 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, to tell us what they know.

“As this case shows, someone who is perceived to be a small-time criminal can often be linked to a much larger operation, and the smallest bit of information can sometimes be the missing piece of the puzzle for our officers.”