Drug gangs jailed

4:24pm Tuesday 7th March 2006

By Bolton Evening News Reporter

DRUG-dealing gang members who flooded the streets of Bolton with heroin and crack cocaine have been jailed.

Three separate dial-a-drug networks sold thousands of bags of heroin and rocks of crack to addicts across the town.

The deals funded lavish lifestyles -- some of the drug dealers wore designer clothes, shoes and jewellery, and cruised the streets in powerful sports cars.

But police have struggled to trace hundreds of thousands of pounds which they believe may have been laundered and moved abroad.

Each of the three gangs made as much as £4,000 a day, often carrying out deals in broad daylight, and turned parts of Great Lever into no-go zones for families and terrified residents.

But yesterday, their reigns came to an end when they appeared at Bolton Crown Court judge and were sent to jail.

Sentencing 11 of the dealers on Monday, Judge William Morris said: "Drug dealing is a simply wicked trade.

"These conspiracies represent the cynical exploitation of the weakness of others for financial gain.

"Many, if not most, addicts can only fund their habits by crime and I have no doubt that your customers had paid for their drugs with the proceeds of crime and I have no doubt that you were all aware of that.

"Heroin and crack cocaine are dangerous drugs and the addictions they create lead to misery, ill health and sometimes death.

"The large number of addicts in a town the size of Bolton creates social destruction on a significant scale."

The gangs believed they were untouchable but they were caught after a six-month police operation. Raids later uncovered drugs and thousands of pounds in cash.

A "bagging up" plant used by one of the gangs -- known as the Morgan Gang -- to cut and bag the drugs for distribution was also discovered.

Police said today they were confident they had wound up a significant proportion of the town's drug trade.

A two-day hearing at Bolton Crown Court heard that the three gangs -- named Morgan, Jimmy and Tango -- were identified last April by detectives acting on information from the public.

David Friesner, prosecuting, said each of the gangs operated in an identical way; using a single mobile phone to receive orders from addicts and direct delivery drivers to drop-off points.

A total of 14 people pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

The Morgan gang spent hundreds of pounds a week on fleets of hire cars for delivery drivers while Amer Khan and Wasim Iqbal bought expensive sports cars with their profits.

Mr Friesner said it was not a typical drug-dealing operation.

"These were not addicts but instead exploited the addictions of others to make substantial profits. These are well-heeled men, wearing flash jewellery and driving hire cars."

Mr Friesner said there was no evidence of any of the gangs being led by one leader but instead they operated as a "co-operative of people dealing drugs on the streets at a commercial level".

"For the most part, all are involved at every level," said Mr Friesner.

The Morgan gang, which included Wasim Iqbal, Amer Khan, Suleman Susiwala, Nasser Hussain and Ansar Ayub, operated in the area around Great Lever Park and Lowther Street.

Amer Khan was arrested in possession of the gang's main drugs hotline. The court heard he earned up to £1,000 a day -- the equivalent of selling 100 bags of heroin.

Wasim Iqbal was found with more than £20,000 when police arrested him at his home, said Mr Friesner.

Mr Friesner said the gang carried out deals in broad daylight near Great Lever park and nearby schools.

Police filmed one deal which took place with a schoolgirl standing just yards away.

Iqbal, aged 21, of Crescent Road, Great Lever, was yesterday sentenced to six years for drug dealing and a further six months for four counts of driving while disqualified.

Amer Khan, aged 20, of Green Lane, Great Lever, was sent to a young offenders' institute for four-and-a-half years.

Nasser Hussain, aged 24, of Greenheys Road, Little Hulton, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Ansar Ayub, aged 19, of Westbourne Terrace, Great Lever, was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service.

Suleman Susiwala, aged 21, of Woodgate Street, Great Lever, will be sentenced separately on March 22 after he gave information about his fellow gang members and police were concerned about his safety.

The larger Jimmy gang -- which was run by Yaseen Suleman, Yasar Khan, Waqar Khan, Moheed Khan, Miroslav Girga and Reza Sahampour -- operated mainly in the Rishton Lane and Lever Street areas of Great Lever.

Police said the gang operated like any business, recruiting runners, who were paid a weekly wage and expenses and provided with a hire car to deliver drugs.

Yasar Khan was arrested with the phone which operated as the gang's main point of contact with addicts.

Yasar Khan, aged 25, of Alfred Street, Burnden, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years for drug dealing and one month for driving while disqualified.

Yaseen Suleman, aged 24, of Shepley Street, Bolton, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.

Waqar Khan, aged 26, of Roxalina Street, Great Lever, was sent to prison for four-and-a-half years.

Moheed Khan, aged 27, of Crescent Road, Great Lever, Miroslav Girga, aged 20, of Park Road, Bolton, and Reza Sahampour, aged 41, of Mancroft Avenue, Great Lever, were all given 12-month sentences suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service.

The smallest of the three gangs, called the Tango gang -- made up of Qualid Bemri, Tracey Eckstein and Saeed Khan -- operated in the Woodgate Street area.

Saeed Khan, aged 23, of Crescent Road, Great Lever, was sentenced to five years and a further month for driving while disqualified.

Qualid Bemri, aged 25, of Newstead Avenue, Manchester, and Tracey Eckstein, aged 32, of Bleak Street, Tonge Moor, will be sentenced on March 22.

Supt Andy Durkin, of Bolton Police said: "Some of these people were seen as cult figures by the younger members of their communities.

"They saw the gang lifestyles and the status symbols and were admired for the wealth which their dealing brought them.

"I hope these sentences send a very clear message that this type of crime will not be tolerated in Bolton.

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