Leeds cab driver had £50,000 of cannabis in the boot

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POLICE discovered £50,000 worth of cannabis stashed in the boot of a taxi driver’s car when they stopped him on the way to a drug deal, a court heard.

Cabbie Mohammed Ashraf was stopped on the A1(M) in Leeds as he made his way to deliver almost 6kgs worth of the drug.

Ashraf and his accomplice Steven Manson, who was in the front passenger seat, were stopped on the motorway close to Micklefield after police received a tip-off.

After the men were jailed, police said the pair theought using a private hire vehicle would be the “perfect cover” for their illegal operation.

Leeds Crown Court heard there was a “stench” of cannabis when police approached the vehicle on October 29 last year.

The drugs were found in vacuum packs hidden in the boot.

The court heard the pair had been to collect the drug stash and were on their way to deliver it to another location when they were stopped in the northbound carriageway of the motorway.

Ashraf, 34, of Hetton Road, Gipton, and Manson, 49, of Trafford Grove, Harehills, were both arrested and tried to blame each other when interviewed about the incident.

The court heard Ashraf had been offered £1,000 to transport the drugs. Manson was due to receive a smaller amount for his role.

Both men pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply. Manson also admitted possessing amphetamine after a he was found with a small quantity of the drug.

Father-of-four Ashraf was jailed for 20 months and banned from driving for two years. Manson was jailed for 20 months.

Both men will also face a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to be heard in March next year.

Jailing the pair, Recorder Michael Wheeler said: “You were both transporting drugs from one location to another.

“You both knew drugs were in the car. You were both motivated by financial gain.

“You knew what was going on and that the street value of those drugs was huge.”

Detective Inspector Jaz Khan, from Leeds District Quartz, a specialist team tackling gun and drug crime in Leeds, said: “These men were stopped with a very significant amount of cannabis that was clearly destined to be sold on the street of Leeds.

“They thought that using a private hire vehicle would be the perfect cover for their illegal activities but were stopped by officers before their illicit cargo could find its way into our communities.

“We are now pursuing Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings to make sure that any money generated by this drug dealing operation is forfeited and they are not allowed to benefit financially from crime.”