IWAN GABE DAVIES takes an in-depth look at the organised crime gang jailed for nearly half a century whose aim was to flood the streets of Newport with over £2 million worth of heroin every year and how police smashed their drugs empire using methods popularised in cult US crime series The Wire

SEVEN members of a drugs gang whose boss boasted about how they could make more than £5,000-a-day selling heroin on the streets of Newport have just been locked up for nearly 50 years.

They all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin after a sophisticated police investigation used covert surveillance, the bugging of a drug dealer’s car and mobile phone analysis to bring them to justice.

Operation Jackdaw, carried out by Tarian, the regional organised crime unit, supported by Gwent Police and South Wales Police, was a resounding success.

Prosecutor Andrew Jones told Newport Crown Court that heroin worth nearly £700,000 was seized after two raids in the city last year after it had been trafficked to South Wales from the West Midlands.

The first took place on April 10, 2018 at a house in Laburnum Drive, followed by another at a house in St Mary Street more than a month later on May 23.

Mr Jones said: “Evidence was gathered via telephone analysis, ANPR data, covert surveillance and a covert audio recording device placed within the vehicle of one of the main participants in another conspiracy.”

Last month six gang members, all from Newport, were sentenced when Altaf Hussain, aged 22, of Munnings Drive, Ryan Moody, aged 23, of Bishpool View, Sageer Abbas, 28, his brother Zain Abbas, aged 21, both of Glebe Street, Rizwan Raza, aged 29, of Harrow Road and Tara Jones, aged 27, of Laburnum Drive, received substantial prison sentences ranging in length from between five to 10 years.

On February 1, Amrik Singh, aged 52, of St Albans Road, Smethwick, Sandwell, near Birmingham, was the last to be jailed.

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Gang profiles

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Altaf Hussain

Hussain, who already had three previous convictions for supplying heroin despite his tender age of 22, was the gang’s boss.

Mr Jones said: “Covert recordings revealed that Hussain, who was known as Toffee, boasted that he would ‘do a box every five days’.

“That equates to almost 72kg a year. That would mean that he was supplying heroin in excess of over £2 million per year should his account be accurate.”

He was involved in the “large scale sourcing, purchase and onward distribution of multi-kilograms” of drugs.

The court was told the defendant had “substantial links to, and influence on, others in the chain”.

Hussain was jailed for 10 years.

Ryan Moody

Moody played a “leading role” and was responsible for the sourcing and distribution of heroin, co-ordinating their delivery into Newport and their storage and had contact with the upstream suppliers in Birmingham.

Mr Jones said: “He too was caught on the covert probe evidence talking about the extent of his drug dealing and exposed fully where he fell within the hierarchy of the conspiracy.”

It was heard in court how Moody had also returned to their suppliers heroin which he had rejected as being of “poor quality”.

He, the prosecution claimed, had the “expectation of substantial financial gain”.

Moody received a custodial term of eight years and eight months.

Sageer Abbas

Known as ‘Ziggy’, he was responsible for the delivery of the large quantity of heroin that was seized at St Mary Street on May 23, 2018.

He was paid by crime boss Hussain to undertake drug dealing on his behalf.

The prosecution said: “Sageer Abbas clearly had knowledge of the scale and extent of the conspiracy given the volume of drugs involved.”

‘Ziggy’ was jailed for seven years and four months.

Zain Abbas

He lived at the St Mary Street address and took delivery of a JD Sport bag that was found by police to contain more than 6kg of heroin.

The defendant admitted he was the person responsible for accepting the drugs and that this was organised by his brother Sageer.

A further delivery was made to his home and that stash was found in Zain’s bedroom.

He was put behind bars for six years.

Rizwan Raza

Known as ‘Beaver’, he was staying at St Mary Street when the large consignment of drugs was found on May 23, 2018.

Mr Jones said: “He was clearly working for the main players in this conspiracy.”

Heroin worth more than £570,000 was found at St Mary Street.

Raza was jailed for seven years and four months.

Tara Jones

Her home in Laburnum Drive was raided on April 10, 2018 with telephone evidence proving “she was undoubtedly working for Ryan Moody when she met Amrik Singh on that date”.

She had a bag that contained half a kilo of heroin.

Mr Jones told the court: “In her property, over 6kg of cutting agents were recovered.

“She was more than simply a custodian given her willingness to meet Singh and conduct an exchange of a significant amount of drugs.”

Heroin with an estimated street value of up to £120,000 was found at the defendant’s house, much of it with a purity as high as 72%.

She was jailed for five years.

Amrik Singh

Singh was a courier employed by the upstream suppliers based in the West Midlands. He was arrested in Laburnum Drive delivering drugs in his own van.

Mr Jones said: “That vehicle had a specially created hide in which drugs were hidden.”

He added: “ANPR and cell site data indicates that this was not an isolated incident for Mr Singh.”

Singh was imprisoned for five years and six months.