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Brothers jailed in £49m heroin plot

Two brothers have been sentenced to a total of 37 years in prison for their part in trafficking 245kg of heroin into the UK concealed in a consignment of towels. The drugs would have had a street value of around £49 million.

The National Crime Agency investigation showed that Yasser Khalil and Waheed Khalil of Selbourne Terrace, Shipley, conspired with a third man, Stuart Maich of Swarland Grove, Bradford, to import the Class A drug from Pakistan using a legitimate company set up as a front for their drug trafficking.

The operation began in January 2012 after Border Force Officers at the Port of Felixstowe searched a sea freight container from Port Qasim. It contained 592 cartons of towels. Further examination found 124 of the cartons had been modified to provide the concealment for the Class A drug – 2kgs of heroin was hidden inside each carton. The intended delivery address was TJ Fabrics in Batley.

Further investigation confirmed that Maich was the sole director of TJ Fabrics which had been set up only three months before the shipment. NCA officers searched Maich's home address and seized evidence including documentation and mobile phones which linked him directly to the shipment from Pakistan and the two Khalil brothers. Waheed Khalil and Maich were arrested.

Forensic investigation confirmed Maich was in regular contact with Yasser and Waheed Khalil. Officers were also able to show that:

  • Maich used a legitimate accountant and freight forwarder who had previously provided services to Yasser Khalil. The intended delivery address of the container was provided by Yasser Khalil.  
  • Faxed shipping documents found Maich's home address had a typographical error in the Bill of Lading in Pakistan. This was replicated in communications between Yasser and Waheed Khalil. 
  • Two weeks prior to the delivery date, telephone communications data shows Maich in contact with HMRC to register for VAT, a prerequisite for delivery. The same VAT number was found by investigators hand written on a piece of paper in Waheed Khalil's car. 
  • On the day of shipment from Pakistan, analysis shows the men were in contact with each other every 10 minutes.

Maich pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import 245kgs of heroin, he was sentenced to ten and a half years at Leeds Crown Court in May 2012. Yasser and Waheed Khalil pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import 245kg of heroin and were sentenced to eighteen and a half years each.

A third brother, Fiesal Khalil of  West Park Terrace, Bradford, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply 131grams of cocaine which was recovered from behind a bath panel, following a search of his home address. He was sentenced to five years nine months in prison.

NCA's Steve Baldwin said: "Drug traffickers destroy local communities for their own greed. Maich and the Khalil brothers thought they could fool law enforcement agencies both nationally and internationally. Their prison sentences will give them plenty of time to reflect on their misplaced confidence." 

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