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Operation Venetic: Fugitive drugs boss hid in parents’ loft

A “significant and trusted” drugs supplier who went on the run from law enforcement was caught hiding in his parents’ loft.

Faaris Zaman, 27, fled the UK in 2020 after being arrested by National Crime Agency officers working under Operation Venetic – the UK, NCA-led response to the takedown of encrypted comms platform EncroChat.

Using the handle ‘oraclewarrior’, Zaman had used EncroChat to supply cocaine and heroin and handled £1.3m in criminal profits.

Zaman was arrested in July 2020 and when NCA investigators searched his family address in Ashgrove, Bradford, they found £89,000 in cash, a vacuum packing machine and debtor lists.

Handwritten notes detailing buyers, prices and pick-up vehicles illustrated Zaman’s drugs supply deals dating back to at least October 2018. 

He gave a no comment interview and was released under investigation. As the case progressed against him, he fled the UK.

He slipped back into the country clandestinely to evade the NCA, but officers tracked him to the family address and in October 2023 he was arrested again after a three-hour search ended in officers finding him quietly hiding in the loft of the large semi-detached home.

He was charged with and subsequently admitted two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to possess criminal property at Bradford Crown Court in March 2024.

Zaman’s EncroChat messages showed he messaged other organised criminals to deal multiple kilos of cocaine and heroin, moving hundreds of thousands of pounds at a time.

In April 2020, Zaman was in contact with another user who arranged for cash to be delivered to him for counting. A picture of wads of bank notes was recovered from the device with messages confirming almost £140,000 had been received. Other messages showed Zaman in conversation with others about picking up hundreds of thousands of pounds from locations in the north of England on numerous occasions.

On another occasion, Zaman replied to a contact who asked for feedback on the ‘tops’ [cocaine] being supplied. Zaman said three people had said the drugs were ‘no good for wash or sniff’ [cocaine]. Numerous images of blocks of white powder were shared between users.

In May 2020, Zaman had a conversation with two users to try and provide a sample of ‘bottoms’ [heroin], describing it as ‘grade 8, clean taste’. Zaman sent a picture of the drugs to the user before delivering an amount to two addresses in Bradford.

Zaman claimed he was primarily a money launderer on behalf of other Encrochat users but then also became involved in the supply of class A drugs. He said he was not a leader in the group, acting on instructions from other users.

He was sentenced to 11 years and seven months in prison at Bradford Crown Court on 22 May.

NCA Operations Manager Nigel Coles said: “Faaris Zaman has suggested he played a lesser role in this drugs supply network but this was high level serious and organised criminality where his messages showed he was a significant and trusted operator.

“The messages obtained under Operation Venetic led us straight to Zaman who thought he was operating above law enforcement.

“The NCA is committed to protecting the public against criminals like Zaman, who fuel the illegal drugs trade, and will continue in our work to bring them to justice.”

Operation Venetic has been the UK’s deepest ever penetration of organised crime groups.

So far, more than 1,600 offenders have been convicted and there are many more suspects in the legal and judicial systems.

In total, more than 3,300 arrests have been made and more than 2,000 suspects charged in the UK.

Over 10,700 years of sentences have been given to offenders.

Drugs seizures include nearly six-and-a-half tonnes of cocaine, more than three tonnes of heroin and over twenty tonnes of cannabis.

One-hundred-and-seventy-three firearms have been taken off UK streets, along with almost 3,500 rounds of ammunition and more than £84m has been seized from organised crime groups. Over 200 threats to life were averted.

These figures represent the collective efforts of the NCA, UK police forces, Regional Organised Crime Units, Border Force, HM Revenue and Customs and crucially the Crown Prosecution Service.

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