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LAUGHING drug gang NOW behind bars

THESE are the smirking mugshots of two county lines gangs who used young boys to peddle drugs across the North.

The 24-strong group will spend more than half a century behind bars for exploiting vulnerable children into selling heroin and crack cocaine.

Members of two county lines gangs will spend more than 50 years behind bars
Members of two county lines gangs will spend more than 50 years behind bars

They were convicted after a three-year long investigation – named Operation Sark – into gangs The General Line and The Flash Line.

Members of both groups used violence against their rivals to claim and mark their territory, known as taxing.

They also used intimidation tactics to force children into selling Class A drugs on their behalf.

Gang members targeted vulnerable boys living in local authority accommodation in Accrington, Lancashire.

The victims, who were as young as 16, were trained to sell drugs on the streets and ordered to store and package narcotics from their housing.

Police identified The General Line head honcho Amar Hussain, 30, who ran the lucrative supply network.

The ‘line’ after which the gang got its name was a phone number people rang to buy Class A drugs, which was linked to the ‘Baz’ and ‘Taz’ drug lines Hussain also oversaw.

Over a 170-day period up to May 2019, the lines received 100 calls or texts a day and generated around £340,000 in cash.

Supplies were bought in bulk from Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, but Hussain also managed the phones that told street dealers where to deliver customer orders.

He also purchased designer clothing for his dealers – sometimes paying for them in part with drugs – and groomed them to ensure he made as much money as he could without coming to the attention of the police.

Similar tactics were employed by The Flash Line.

The General Line operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and Hussain even continued to run his operation while on trial at Preston Crown Court for an unrelated matter for which he was eventually acquitted.

His trusted right-hand man was 25-year-old Hmaad Bashir who answered the phones and told street dealers where to go.

Thomas Edwards, 24, played a similar role to Bashir in the conspiracy, and his partner – 21-year-old Ella Smith – helped by taking phone calls to the dealer line, packaging drugs and letting the group use her home as a base.

Brandon Wilson, 18, Aleem Mahmood, 19, Tyler O’Neill, 19, Connor Coulburn, 26, Jacob Fisher, 22, Naomi Winter, 30, Stephan Milton 18, and 30-year-old Nathan Walker occupied various roles from organisers to street dealers.

Taxi driver Bilal Yousaf, 27, acted as a chauffeur and regularly provided transport for Hussain and Bashir while they were engaged in their drug-dealing activities.


The Flash Line, which also operated 24/7, was run by violent Sohail Khan, who once boasted about slashing the hand of one of their dealers for stealing from him, and an associate.

Among the hierarchy of was Iftikar Asghar, whose home at the time was used as an operating base.

Marban Hussain, who also acted as a driver, Bradley Ridsdale and Colin Cardwell were among those trusted to handle and retain large quantities of drugs and cash, while Jake Chambers, Michael Hall and Charles Wigglesworth worked as street dealers.

During the investigation, officers uncovered the illegal activities of Shayzul Miah, David Pye and Martin Jackson who were running their own individual dealer lines for significant personal gain.

Those charged as part of Operation Sark were sentenced at Preston Crown Court on August 17, and a warrant was issued for the arrest of Michael Hall who failed to attend the sentencing hearing.

All 24 defendants were charged with conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

DCI Tim Brown, of East Division, said: “These organised crime groups (OCGs), led by Amar Hussain and Sohail Khan deliberately targeted and shamelessly exploited some of the most vulnerable members of society for their own financial gain.

“These individuals thought they were untouchable and believed they could go on making the lives of their victims, and the many residents who were forced to live their law-abiding lives around them, a misery forever.

“I welcome the sentences handed out to the members of this gang, particularly those for Amar Hussain and Sohail Khan, and I hope it sends a clear message that Lancashire Constabulary and its partner agencies will use all methods at their disposal to disrupt the work of organised criminals.

“I would encourage anybody who has concerns about criminal activity in their area to let the police know about it and, as demonstrated by this case, we will pro-actively act on that information.”


The defendants who pleaded guilty were sentenced to the following:

Amar Hussain, of Accrington – eight years.

Sohail Kham, 24, of Accrington – eight years and three months.

Shayzul Miah, 31, of Accrington – 58 months.

Thomas Edwards, of Chorley – four years.

Hmaad Bashir, of Accrington – seven years.

Connor Coulburn, of Bacup – four years.

Nathan Walker, of Accrington – four years.

David Pye, 43, of Accrington -45 months.

Martin Jackson, 44, of no fixed address – 39 months.

Jacob Fisher, of Great Harwood – three years and six months.

Charles Wigglesworth, 38, of Accrington – three years and two months.

Naomi Winters, of no fixed address – three years and two months.

Bradley Ridsdale, 22, of Northumberland – three years.

Iftikar Asghar, 49, of Wakefield –two years and four months.

Colin Cardwell, 24, of Accrington – two years and four months.

Ella Smith, of Chorley – two years imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Brandon Wilson, of Accrington – two years imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Tyler O’Neil, of Preston, two years imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Stephan Milton, of Accrington – a three-year supervision order.

Jake Chambers, 22, of Todmorden – two years imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Michael Hall, 32, of Accrington – warrant issued for his arrest.

The defendants who were found guilty after trial were sentenced to the following:

Bilal Yousaf, of Accrington – four years.

Aleem Mahmood, of Accrington – four years.

Marban Hussain, 53, of Accrington – two years imprisonment, suspended for two years.


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