FOUR men involved in dealing heroin worth £1.8 million have been jailed for a total of almost 30 years.
Gary Knox kept the drugs at safe houses throughout Bolton but the dealer, who had previously been convicted of buying a book of rival drug dealers’ names from a corrupt police officer, was being kept under surveillance.
Bolton Crown Court heard that, on October 17, 2016 he was observed making journeys in his Range Rover Evoque to two of these addresses to collect bags of drugs which he then handed over in meetings with two other men.
Guy Mathieson, prosecuting said, in total the 4.5kg of heroin seized from the men and found at the safe houses was worth £1.8 million on the streets.
Knox, aged 42, of Jessop Forge, Nadeem Ashiq, aged 39, of Rhodes Crescent, Rochdale, and Nelson Neish, aged 25, of Westbury Road, Crumpsall all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin. Mohamed Zubair, aged 31, of Castle Street, Bolton, denied the offence but was convicted following the trial.
Judge Elliot Knopf jailed Knox for 11 years and three months, Zubair for nine years, Ashiq for five years and seven months and Neish for three years and six months.
Gemma Grundy, aged 30, had admitted possessing heroin and cocaine with intent to supply at her home in Ashford Walk, Halliwell, and the single mother-of-one was sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for two years with the requirement that she participate in 25 days of rehabilitation activities.
The court heard that at 1pm on October 17, 2016 Knox and Nadeem were observed meeting at Tesco in Bolton with Nadeem approaching Knox’s Range Rover to collect a bag before driving off.
Nadeem was stopped and officers recovered four solid blocks of powder wrapped in tape. They were found to contain almost 2kg of heroin at 48 percent purity, worth £800,000 on the street.
Prior to the exchange Knox had gone to a shed at an address in Elm Road, Little Lever, where police later found a further two parcels containing 1kg of heroin worth up to £400,000.
Police continued to keep watch on Knox and at 3pm the same day Gemma Grundy was seen digging in her front garden then getting into Knox’s Range Rover with a bag.
At 4pm Knox visited the Ashford Walk address again and Neish was then seen getting into the Range Rover before exiting the vehicle with a bag and heading towards Wythenshawe.
Neish was stopped by police and and nearly half a kilo of heroin was seized, worth £200,000. At 6pm Knox was arrested and more than £14,000 in cash was found in his car along with keys to an unoccupied property in Thomasson Court, Bolton, where two parcels of heroin were found, worth £400,000.
A search of Grundy’s garden also uncovered heroin and cocaine worth almost £15,000.
Mr Mathieson said police eventually managed to access Knox’s encrypted mobile phone which revealed a debtors list of people owing up to a total of £150,000.
“It shows the extent to which the conspiracy goes,” said Mr Mathieson.
Steven Nikolich, defending Ashiq said the married father-of-three had only been involved in transporting the drugs and Richard Dawson, for Neish, stressed that “his involvement was but for a few hours on a particular day”. The court heard that Zubair, a married father-of-four, who had run petrol stations and worked as a taxi driver, had acted as a middle man, putting Knox in touch with buyers.
“He is and was a hard-working man with a strong work ethic,” said David Bentley, defending Zubair.
Mr Dawson, also defending Grundy, appealed for her not to be jailed immediately. He stressed that she had agreed to store drugs for Knox in return for free heroin after she became a user.
“There is no suggestion she did any more than act as a safe house for others’ drug supplies,” he said.
Sentencing, Judge Knopf stressed that drug dealers are attracted by the “prospect of easy money”.
He added: “When those involved in such acts are apprehended, as they have been by the diligent efforts of the police officers concerned, then they need to know that there will be a heavy price to pay.”
The arrests had followed an investigation into Knox which had begun two months earlier.
Speaking after the sentencing Det Supt Jon Chadwick from Greater Manchester Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Group said: “We are very pleased with today’s results. These jail terms come after a lengthy police investigation and mean we have successfully removed drugs, and some of the people who deal them, from our streets. 
“Throughout the investigation officers confiscated a total of four and a half Kilos of heroin, agents that would be mixed with this drug, smaller quantities of cocaine and over £14,000 in cash from the group. 
“These drugs destroy lives, they break up families and they terrorise communities. Those who supply drugs do so purely for their own greed. They have no thought for the people whose lives are affected. 
“Knox and other members of this drug dealing ring will now spend years in prison where they can contemplate the lives they have ruined.”