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Trio of drug suppliers jailed after cocaine exchange

Three men have been jailed for a combined 28 years after a National Crime Agency sting operation caught them red-handed exchanging 25 kilos of cocaine. 

They appeared at Birmingham Crown Court today [8 September] after pleading guilty to conspiring to supply class A drugs at earlier hearings.

Tayyab Iqbal, 32, of Coventry Road, Birmingham, was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. 

Andrew Worby, 44, of West Royd Road, Shipley, and Onasis Depass, 32, also of West Royd Road, Shipley, both received six years.

On 14 September 2022, Iqbal drove his BMW from Birmingham to an industrial estate in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, where NCA officers watched him enter a storage unit and reappear a short time later carrying a bulging garden waste sack. 

He then placed the sack in the car’s boot and drove around the corner where he met two men – Depass and Worby – who were parked up in a white Mercedes van.

Iqbal handed the sack to the pair in exchange for a shopping bag before they parted company – Depass and Worby set off in the van, and Iqbal in the BMW.

The court heard how NCA officers teamed up with the Central Motorway Police Group, made up of officers from West Midlands Police and Staffordshire Police, to intercept the van near the M6 motorway.

Inside officers found the garden waste sack which contained 25 individually wrapped kilogram blocks of cocaine. NCA experts estimated the street value of the cocaine to be worth up to £2.5 million.

Depass and Worby were arrested roadside, and after being cautioned Worby commented, “I’m just the driver for my boss.”.

Iqbal was arrested at his home address and a number of items were seized, including £20,000 in the shopping bag handed to him during the earlier exchange.

NCA officers also searched the storage unit in Bridgnorth, and found a Toyota Verso registered in Iqbal’s name. Inside they found two small bags of heroin.

Paul Jones, NCA Senior Investigating Officer, said: “Our successful sting operation prevented a significant quantity of harmful drugs reaching the streets and brought three drug suppliers to justice.

“Crime associated with cocaine is very often violent and exploitative. It has direct links to the use of firearms, knife crime, and exploitation of the young and vulnerable.

“This is why we’re determined to disrupt and dismantle the organised crime groups involved in the wholesale distribution of cocaine to street gangs plaguing our communities.”

Gemma Vincent, Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS, said: “The quantity of drugs seized from the defendants in this case was extremely worrying and, had they been successful, millions of pounds worth of Class A drugs could have ended up on the streets and caused considerable harm to communities. 

“Thanks to the NCA’s investigative work and collaboration with our prosecution team, the CPS was able to help build a strong case resulting in their conviction.”

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