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Police seize £17.2m worth of cocaine hidden inside cheese

Police seize £17.2m worth of cocaine hidden inside cheese

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Two individuals have been incarcerated following a police operation that uncovered £17.2 million worth of cocaine concealed within blocks of cheese.

Lancashire Police reported that the seizure of 217 kilograms of cocaine, marking the largest haul in the force’s history, occurred during a raid on a unit in Blackburn in May. Authorities discovered the illicit substance concealed within blocks of gouda.

Saleem Chaudhri, aged 46, received a sentence of 27 and a half years at Preston Crown Court on Friday after admitting to charges of conspiring to supply cocaine and money laundering, as confirmed by a police spokesperson.

Rieddul Mohabath, aged 28, was sentenced to 16 years on Monday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. The raid was initiated after surveillance observed Chaudhri, residing in Waterside, Blackburn, taking control of a Toyota estate from a drug courier and driving it to the Old Fire Station in Blackburn.

The investigation revealed that the class A drug, sourced from Belgium, was concealed within cheese blocks and other packages in bin bags, set to be distributed to couriers. Mohabath, from Dean Road, South Shields, was found to be directing couriers to Blackburn to collect substantial quantities of cocaine.

Upon Mohabath’s arrest on July 3, snap bags containing cocaine were discovered in an Audi parked outside his residence. Additionally, authorities found nearly £10,000 in cash at Chaudhri’s home. Police evidence indicated that between September 2022 and May 2023, Chaudhri had agreed to distribute over 2,000 kilograms of cocaine, valued at more than £70 million.

Detective Sergeant Haydn Sibley of Lancashire Police commented, “Chaudhri and his associates went to great lengths to conceal their product, and given the significant amount of cocaine seized – the largest ever haul in Lancashire – it’s understandable. When we apprehended Chaudhri, the expression on his face revealed the collapse of his world, as reflected by the substantial sentence he received today. I commend the sentences handed down to both Chaudhri and Mohabath, hoping they serve as a clear warning of the consequences for those involved in supplying class A drugs in Lancashire.”

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