Two jailed after cocaine found hidden inside blocks of cheese

Two jailed after cocaine found hidden inside blocks of cheese

Two men have been jailed after police discovered a cocaine haul hidden inside blocks of cheese.

Lancashire Police said £17.2 million worth of cocaine was seized – the force’s biggest ever haul – when officers raided a unit in Blackburn last May and cut open blocks of gouda to uncover some of the class A drugs.

Saleem Chaudhri, 46, was jailed for 27 and a half years at Preston Crown Court on Friday after admitting conspiring to supply cocaine and money laundering and co-defendant Rieddul Mohabath, 28, was sentenced to 16 years on Monday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, a police spokesman said.

Officers carried out the raid on May 3 last year after seeing Chaudhri, of Waterside, Blackburn, taking possession of a Toyota estate from a drugs courier and driving it to the Old Fire Station in Blackburn.

The force said 217 kilos of cocaine, imported from Belgium, were found inside the unit, some hidden in cheese and other blocks in bin bags ready to be handed to couriers.

Mohabath, of Dean Road, South Shields, was directing couriers to Blackburn to pick up large quantities of cocaine, police said.

When he was arrested, on July 3, snap bags of cocaine were found in an Audi outside his home.

Almost £10,000 of cash was found in Chaudhri’s home and evidence showed between September 2022 and May 2023 he had agreed to sell more than 2,000 kilos of cocaine, worth more than £70 million, according to police.

Detective Sergeant Haydn Sibley, of Lancashire Police, said: “Chaudhri and his associates went to great lengths to hide their product and with the amount of cocaine seized – the biggest haul ever in Lancashire – you can understand why.

“When we arrested Chaudhri you could see by the look on his face that his world had crumbled and that is reflected by the significant sentence he has received today.

“I welcome the sentences that both Chaudhri and Mohabath received and I hope they send out a clear message about what you should expect to happen when we catch you supplying class A drugs in Lancashire.”