A CRIME gang who flooded the streets of East Lancashire with lethal drugs have been jailed for a combined total of more than 30 years.
As part of a major investigation into drug supply in Accrington, detectives also prosecuted four people who were knowingly allowing their homes to be used for the supply of Class A drugs.
Members of the gang, one of whom had already been arrested, were seen jumping out of a window before later being found by officers executing a warrant at one of their drug dens.
Waqas Khan, Eshan Monshur, Junaid Khan, and Basha Ullah have all now been jailed.
In October 2020, Lancashire Police launched Operation Melford after residents raised concerns about drug-related activity around St Leger Court.
Telephone and CCTV enquiries revealed the ‘Soldier Line’ – a drug supply operation - was being operated from that area of the town.
On October 12, 2020, defendant Waqas Khan was arrested at a property in Exchange Street.
While officers made their way through a re-enforced door, they could hear the sound of a toilet being repeatedly flushed.
Inside the property officers found scales containing heroin and crack cocaine and £1,000 cash.
A search of Khan’s home address in College Street, Accrington, saw a phone which contained messages linked to the supply of heroin and crack cocaine.
On the evening of October 12, officers executed a warrant at an address in Catlow Hall Street, Oswaldtwistle. Present in the address was Khan, who had been released on bail earlier in the day.
After officers had forced their way into a barricaded bedroom they saw Khan and his co-defendant Eshan Monshur jump from a window. Eyewitnesses would later confirm a total of four people had jumped from the window.
A phone belonging to Monshur was found close to the address.
Khan was arrested in the grounds of a nearby school.
A search of the bedroom of the property in Catlow Hall Street found £5,000 of heroin and crack cocaine in the process of being bagged up into street deals and a number of mobile phones.
The homeowner, Lawrie Dunn, was arrested and an examination of her mobile phone showed she was fully aware that illegal activity was taking place inside the property.
This included conversations about the OCG bagging up and supplying drugs from her address which she had with her co-defendant Anastacia Dearden.
Dearden confirmed she had also let defendant Basha Ullah bag up drugs at her address.
A short time after officers had discovered the drugs in the bedroom, a taxi containing Monshur and defendants Mohammed Mushtaq and Junaid Khan was spotted in the vicinity of Catlow Hall Street.
All three were suspected of being the other people who had jumped from the window. A search of Khan revealed he had crack cocaine hidden in his boxer shorts.
Mushtaq’s fingerprints were found on the packaging of the drugs recovered from Catlow Hall Street.
Examination of Monshur’s phone revealed Ullah had been dealing drugs for the OCG and when he was stopped on November 9, he was found in possession of scales, cash and a mobile phone. An examination of that phone revealed a mass of messages that relate to drug supply.
The following day Waqas Khan was stopped in company with a local drug user and found to be in possession of two bags of cannabis and cocaine.
Waqas Khan, 28, now of no fixed address but formerly of College Street, Accrington, was convicted of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin. He was jailed for 10 years and six months.
Junaid Khan, 22, of Lime Road, Accrington, was charged with was convicted of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin. He was jailed for 12 years and eight months.
Monshur, 20, of Arnold Close, Blackburn, was convicted of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin. He was jailed for four years and six months.
Ullah, 36, now of no fixed address but formerly of Richmond Hill Street, Accrington, was convicted of conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin. He was jailed for three years and nine months.
Mushtaq will be sentenced at a later date.
As a result of evidence uncovered as part of Op Melford, four people pleaded guilty to allowing premises to be used for the supply of Class A drugs and were sentenced earlier this year.
Natalie Butt, 51, of St Leger Court, Accrington, was given a 12-month community order, with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a nine-month drug dependency treatment order.
John Owen, 51, of St Leger Court, Accrington, was given a 12-month community order, 100 hours unpaid work and a 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
Lawrie Dunn, 37, of Cross Street, Oswaldtwistle, was given an 18-month community order, with 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a nine-month drug dependency treatment order.
Anastacia Dearden, 26, of Hood Street, Accrington, was given a 12-month community order, with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a six-month drug dependency treatment order.
DCI Tim Brown, of East Division, said: “I am pleased with these significant custodial sentences handed down by the court.
"I hope that they send out a strong message that Lancashire Police and the courts will not tolerate the behaviour of OCGs who seek to profit from the most vulnerable in society by selling Class A drugs.
“If you suspect criminal activity is taking place in your area, I would encourage you to contact the police, confident that we will take the appropriate action.”