Gas fitter turned drug dealer told to pay back £32,000

A gas fitter turned drug dealer who was caught with 25kg of cannabis at a motorway service station has been ordered to pay back nearly £32,000.

Tariq Khwaja
Tariq Khwaja

Tariq Khwaja, 46, was one of two men caught with cannabis worth around £260,000 at a service station on the M6 near Stafford in February 2017.

The drugs were inside laundry bags and a cardboard box, and officers also found six wraps of cocaine in a Vauxhall Insignia hire car Khwaja had been given by his employers.

Khwaja was caught with 25kg of cannabis

Sniffer dogs were used by police who pulled the men over near Junction 14 after spotting Khwaja and 33-year-old Venelin Mihaylov loading cannabis into the car outside Khwaja's home.

Police inquiries revealed that Khwaja was growing cannabis and acting as a small-time cocaine dealer to people he knew.

He had a professional cannabis farm hidden behind a false partition wall in an upstairs bedroom of his home.

Some of the cannabis was hidden inside laundry bags

Khwaja, of Parkhill Road, Sutton Coldfield, was jailed for eight-and-a-half years at Stafford Crown Court in March 2018 but had his jail term cut to seven years on appeal.

Now Khwaja has been ordered to repay £31,955 after a hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Should he fail to pay the full amount within three months his jail term will be extended by a year.

Cannabis was found growing behind a false wall in Khwaja's home

Mihaylov, of Broome Avenue, Great Barr, was jailed for 15 months for possession with intent to supply cannabis.

Detective Sergeant Chris Roberts, of the Staffordshire Police Financial Investigation unit, said: “We will continue to explore opportunities to use the Proceeds of Crime Act.

"This legislation allows us to recover assets from criminals and ensure that they don’t benefit financially from their crimes.”

“We are very pleased the order has been granted following hard work from my team and also that of the original investigation team who secured the conviction.”

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