Two ringleaders of a gang who smuggled millions of pounds worth of cocaine and heroin into the UK hidden in chickens have been jailed for more than 40 years.
Nazarat Hussain, 36, and Wasim Hussain, 34, headed up a gang which imported more than 300kg of class A drugs into the UK.
The pair set up a series of front companies which were involved in the importation of chicken from the Netherlands with the drugs hidden inside.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said on three occasions heroin and cocaine worth around £5 million was seized hidden in chicken shipments, but investigators subsequently identified another 16 importations which they suspect contained drugs.
After two of the chicken shipments were intercepted, the NCA said the gang switched to a different scam, using “corrupt employees” in São Paulo Airport and Heathrow Airport to hide a bag of drugs inside a passenger plane flying to the UK.
Nazarat Hussain, of HMP Birmingham, was jailed for 29-and-a-half-years at Birmingham Crown Court after he was convicted of three charges of conspiring to import class A drugs, and one count of conspiring to acquire a prohibited weapon namely a handgun.
Wasim Hussain, of Handsworth, Birmingham, who is not related to him, was jailed for 14 years and four months, convicted of two charges of conspiring to import class A drugs. A jury failed to come to a verdict on a third charge of conspiring to import class A drugs.
Judge Roderick Henderson said: “I am sure at least 300kg of class A drugs were imported into this country.
“I accept there may have been people higher up still in your organisation, but you were high up in the scale.”
Paul Mitchell, prosecuting, said: “Nazarat and Wasim Hussain were heads of a conspiracy to import class A drugs from the Netherlands and Brazil from the Spring of 2016 and Summer of 2017.
“They used two distinct methods.
“In the first method, false company identities were established with fake email and actual addresses.
“Cargoes of chicken were purchased in the Netherlands and drugs were inserted, and then sent to companies in the UK.
“There were three different fake companies. Each time drugs were seized, they opened up a new company identity and restarted the scheme.
“There were a total of 19 importations. Drugs were seized from three of these importations. A total of 55kg of cocaine and 3kg of heroin were seized.
“An expert witness calculated a total of 350kg of class A drugs may have been imported in total.”
Stanley Reiz, defending Nazarat, said he had a “good side” to him but had made “some very serious misjudgements”.
“A sentence of this length will have a devastating effect on him.”