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Men handed suspended sentences after helping gang smuggle heroin in chicken shipments

By Thomas Parkes | Smethwick | Crime | Published:

Three men who played a small role in assisting a West Midlands gang who smuggled drugs in shipments of frozen chicken have been handed suspended sentences.

Some of the cocaine seized in November 2016

Manjinder Thakhar, Davinder Thakhar and Mohammed Shabir were all part of an organised crime gang who smuggled around £5 million worth of heroin and cocaine into the country, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

The group, ran by ringleaders Nazrat Hussain and his brother Wasim, brought more than 19 shipments into the country from the Netherlands between June 2016 and into the summer of 2017, a judge was told.

Manjinder and Davinder, both from Smethwick, had been involved in picking up the shipments of frozen chicken, which had arrived at legitimate depots, and transporting them to Birmingham under the instruction of Nazrat Hussain, prosecutor Mr Paul Mitchell said.

Davinder Singh Thakhar will be sentenced in January

Shabir, aged 42, was involved in the later phase of the operation after the drugs had been intercepted by police, Mr Mitchell said.

The defendant worked at a depot, which had been set up by the organised crime group, and became eventually suspicious of his role – but carried on assisting, the court heard.

Davinder Thakhar, aged 36, picked up five lots of the shipment while Manjinder, aged 42, picked up three lots – and had recruited his younger brother to the operation.

Manjinder Singh Thakhar will be sentenced in January

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Shabir, aged 42, was of good character and had "no advanced knowledge" of the criminal operation, Mr Alastair Webster QC, defending.

His involvement had been limited to one incident when his suspicions were raised after two men in hi-vis jackets – later revealed to be undercover officers – asked to examine a part of the consignment.

The defendant, believing this was unusual, alerted Nazrat Hussain who fled from the scene.

Shabir, who was described as a "family man" who had been helpful and supportive to his friends, had donated to charity and who had battled with depression, Mr Webster added.

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Mohammed Shabir will be sentenced in January

A letter of mitigation for Manjinder Thakhar was put forward by Mr Harbinder Lally, defending, to the judge who read it.

Judge Roderick Henderson said he had already made up his mind to suspend the sentences, with Mr Mohammed Latif, defending Davinder Thakhar, opting not to offer any mitigation to influence the already-made decision.

Davinder and brother Manjinder, both of Bowden Road in Smethwick, pleaded guilty to participating in the activities of an organised crime group on October 17.

Mohammed Shabir, from Waverley Road in Small Heath, pleaded guilty to the charge on October 16.

Cocaine and heroin seized

All three received two-year sentences which were suspended for 18 months.

Judge Henderson, passing the sentence, said: "You were all involved in different ways in assisting an organised crime group.

"The point needs to be made to people tempted to do what you did that they will generally go to prison and it needs to be a prison sentence, but I will suspend it.

"In each of the cases your roles were limited ones over a short-ish period."

Some of the class A drugs seized by police

Ring-leaders Nazrat Hussain, aged 36 and from Sundial Lane in Great Barr, was sentenced to 29-and-a-half years in prison at Birmingham Crown Court on November 28.

He was convicted of importing class A drugs.

Wasim Hussain, aged 34, of Murdoch Road in Handsworth, was found guilty of the same charge and got 14 years and four months.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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