Cocaine empire comes crashing down after runner caught with wraps stuffed down his trousers

Members of an East Lancashire drugs gang have been jailed after their lucrative cocaine operation came crashing down.

Five men from Accrington, Great Harwood and Nelson have been locked up for more than 30 years following a huge police operation, with another facing sentence. They were part of the 'Ali/Dev' drugs line in Accrington, which also worked in partnership with other drugs lines including 'Oxy', 'Baz' and 'Escobar'.

Lancashire Constabulary said in November 2022, Anthony Zia was stopped driving his vehicle in Colne and found to have 'multiple wraps of cocaine stuffed down his trousers'. Further enquiries revealed Aqib Mushtaq as the man directing Zia; telling him where to go, how much cocaine to deliver and who to deliver it to.


Aqib was then arrested in February 2023 and released under investigation. After the Ali/Dev' drugs line was seized, intensive research showed an organised approach to drug dealing with each of the lines communicating with one another to forward customers on dependent upon their location.

Each line essentially had ownership of districts, and should they receive orders from customers within another district, they would then contact the respective drugs line to complete the order. In advertising their drugs lines, the holders of the phones would encourage customers to pay via bank transfer.

Specifically, they would ask customers pay into a bank account under the name of 'Adnan Ishafaq'. It was discovered that Ishafaq would in turn transfer large sums of money to his brother, Mohammed Rizwan.

In July 2023, police executed multiple warrants resulting in the arrests of Wahid Hussain, Mushtaq, Ishafaq, Rizwan and Aydan Hussain. Officers also seized 22 phones, £22,693 in cash and more than 170 streets deals of cocaine, valued at just under £6,000.

All five men were charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine. All but Rizwan pleaded guilty to the offence, with Rizwan being found guilty after a trial in February 2024.

An estimated total of 5.089kg of cocaine was believed to have been sold during the period, totalling an estimated £508,950. The following sentences totalling more than 30 years were handed down at Burnley Crown Court on Monday (April 29):

  • Aqib Mushtaq, 25, of Hendon Road, Nelson, 11 years, 8 months

  • Adnan Ishafaq, 19, of St Edmund St, Great Harwood, 4 years, 3 months

  • Mohammed Rizwan, 33, of St Edmund St, Great Harwood, 9 years

  • Anthony Zia, 26, of Smith St, Nelson, 3 years

  • Aydan Hussain, 24, of no fixed abode, 3 years

Wahid Hussain, 35, of HMP Preston is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Inspector Hesketh of the Pendle Neighbourhood Policing Team said: "I welcome these sentences which I hope will serve as a deterrent to those involved in the illegal drug trade. We will continue to relentlessly target anyone who seeks to profit from the supply of drugs in our communities, often preying upon & profiting from the most vulnerable members of our communities, and I would ask for anyone who has any information about drug dealing in their area to get in touch so we can take action."