AS the dust settles on the conclusion of Burton’s biggest ever operation to tackle drug dealing, police chiefs are now moving to recover £700,000 worth of assets gained through criminal pursuits.
Chief inspector Steve Maskrey, East Staffordshire local policing team commander, spoke to the Mail after the final defendant, Mohammed Aziz, was sentenced to four years at Stafford Crown Court - meaning that a total of 41 criminals had been before judges and handed a total of 93 years and four months in jail for flooding the streets of the town with drugs.
The police chief looked back on the dawn raids, which saw hundreds of police officers and staff provide an unwanted wake up call to criminals across the town at the start of last year, and also the work undertaken since then to continue the clampdown on crime in the area.
He said: “Operation Nemesis was very much an undercover operation which spanned a period of nine months during 2012.
“This culminated in a highly visible enforcement phase in the first three months of 2013 and a total of forty one defendants were arrested, charged and ultimately convicted of drug offences.
“The offences included the supply of class A and B controlled drugs namely; heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine and cannabis.
“As a result of the thorough and painstaking work of detectives and police staff the operation produced evidence of the highest standard which resulted in all defendants being convicted.
“Substantial custodial sentences were given to the most significant members of organised crime groups identified during the course of the operation.
“The longest sentence received was 11 years.”
This was handed to Mohammad Najib, who was outed as the ‘kingpin’ of the Burton drug operation.
It emerged that during a 10 month period a phone operated by Najib and his two sons Mohamed Kase and Mohammad Muddassar (who were jailed for more than 10 years for their part in the drugs empire) received 26,000 calls and drugs worth an estimated £500,000 were sold on the streets during that time.
Chf Insp Maskrey added: “This operation has had an enormously positive impact within the community of Burton.
“Not only has it resulted in the incarceration of a number of significant drug dealers but it has also resulted in the substantial decline of associated offending such as burglary and other serious acquisitive crime.”
At one point , crime in the town plummeted by 72 per cent.
“However, The investigation does not stop here,” said Burton’s top cop.
“Financial investigators are working hard to recover assets obtained by the defendants as a result of their drug trafficking activities and there are a number of financial hearings set for later in the year.
“The assets under investigation currently total approximately £700,000.
“This operation was not all about enforcement.
“A great deal of work was done to encourage partner agencies within healthcare, probation and drug treatment charities, to have a more coordinated approach.
“This instigated a more pro active and harmonised approach to offer the appropriate support to drug users.”
More than a year since the first raid and almost two years since work began on tackling the drug problems in Burton, Chf Insp Maskrey talked to the Mail about the operation, and its impact, as a whole.
He said: “We feel that this operation was a total success.
“I believe it has given the people of Burton confidence in the police and criminal justice system regarding the war on drugs and was also successful as drug supply activity within the area was seriously disrupted.
“The operation has provided a platform for officers to successfully continue in the enforcement and management of such criminality on a day-to-day basis.”
He also moved to thank the public for their role and urged them to continue helping to keep the streets clear of criminals and crime levels down.
He said: “Lastly, but most importantly I would like to thank the public for their support with this campaign.
“I would encourage people to continue to help us in tackling drug related activity by letting us know if they see suspicious activity by contacting us on 101, or by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”