THREE gang members who smuggled 'huge amounts' of cocaine into the county have been jailed for almost 20 years.

Jameel Khan, 27, Ali Zarei, 27 and Sarfraz Asif, 40, acted as drug couriers for a nationwide drug-dealing network that distributed ‘huge amounts’ of the Class - A drug.

The trio are the latest to have been sentenced to a stint behind bars after three others were jailed last month.

Ali Zarei. Image via ERSOU

Ali Zarei. Image via ERSOU

How did the gang’s network work?

Meetings were arranged by the group using covert encrypted devices intended to be hidden from the police, with couriers often travelling vast distances to drop off the drugs before returning immediately afterwards, all the while taking steps to disguise their activity.

Their destinations included Yorkshire, Dorset, Middlesbrough, Leicester, Luton, Northampton and Buckinghamshire.

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Khan’s role was as a trusted drug and cash courier, with detectives proving he had transported goods on 16 separate occasions, often returning with bags of cash in excess of £70,000 to hand directly to the OCGs leadership.

Zarei was a customer of the OCG and was a regional wholesaler around Northamptonshire, whereas Asif also acted as a courier.

How did police stop their activities?

They were caught following a sting operation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).

Jameel Khan. image via ERSOU

Jameel Khan. image via ERSOU

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Using specialist surveillance officers, ERSOU established that the crime group were selling multiple kilos of cocaine at a time to other gangs across the country.

Detective Inspector Ian Mawdesley, from ERSOU's Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “Our detectives have worked incredibly hard to bring this criminal organisation down, and intelligence gathered throughout this investigation is already helping policing colleagues across the country tackle further criminal offending.

“In addition to these sentences, our financial investigators will also use Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) legislation wherever possible to ensure those making money through illegal activity such as drug dealing are forced to repay their illicit gains.”

How long were they jailed for?

The trio were sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Monday, September 6. 

Khan, of Winchester Street, Northampton, will spend ten years behind bars.

Zarei, of Derngate, Northampton, Luton, will spend five years and four months in jail.

Sarfraz Asif. Image via ERSOU

Sarfraz Asif. Image via ERSOU

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Prison time of four-and-a-half years will be served by Asif, of Dordans Road, Luton.

They join brother Ansar and Ajmal Akram from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire behind bars, who were jailed for 15 years and 14 years respectively in August.

Ryan Brockley, another member of the gang from Leicester, was jailed for five years in August.

DI Mawdesley added: “These men played significant roles in distributing cash and cocaine across the country. Put simply, the criminal enterprise wouldn’t have worked without them.

“Between them, they have moved multiple kilogrammes of drugs and hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash, and in doing so spread misery far and wide. They were key cogs in the OCG and their sentences reflect this.”