Blind university graduate behind drugs gang jailed for 21 years

A blind man has been jailed for 21 years after he was described as the “mastermind” of two plots to supply drugs in Yorkshire.

University graduate Rizwan Arshad, 33, from Bradford, also played a part in a third conspiracy in the Burnley area.

Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday that in spite of his disability he was the leader who ran the operation distributing heroin and cocaine and massive amounts of cutting agents in the Bradford and Huddersfield areas.

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He was one of six men jailed by Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC yesterday who heard pleas from Arshad’s barrister for a reduced sentence due to his disability.

But he told him: “That has not prevented you in the past committing offences of deception, it has not prevented you achieving degree status at university and it did not prevent your role in these conspiracies.

“I do not wish to be thought of as cruel or callous but your predicament with great respect is wholly self-influenced.”

Police observations showed Arshad had a BMW car through the Motability scheme and would rely on other drivers “and lieutenants” to help him.

Andrew Kershaw, prosecuting, told the court Arshad’s lifestyle did not appear consistent with living on disability benefits.

His movements suggested he had a second home in Salford Quays as well as Thornbury, Bradford. He made at least one trip to Dubai via Brussels and another to Amsterdam while also enjoying a holiday with his wife in Mauritius. He was seen in shopping centres among them the Victoria Quarter in Leeds and Meadowhall, Sheffield.

On July 7, 2012 Arshad was stopped in a taxi in Bradford city centre and £108,000 in bundles of notes was recovered which were more than usually contaminated with heroin and cocaine.

Arshad, was found guilty by a jury at Bradford Crown Court of one conspiracy to supply class A drugs and pleaded guilty to two others. Ten other people, including two women, from Bradford, Halifax, Batley, Wakefield, Huddersfield and Kent were also sentenced for their part in the plots.