A DRUG kingpin who recruited “vulnerable” dealers to collect heroin and crack cocaine in Bradford so they could sell them in and around affluent Harrogate has been jailed for eight years.
Wajid Ali, of Thursby Street, Bradford, persuaded drug users to pick up Class A drugs from his home city and take them to Harrogate, Starbeck and Knaresborough on a daily basis.
The 28-year-old was today one of seven people involved in a conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine in the Harrogate area who were jailed for a total of nearly 30 years at Leeds Crown Court. Detectives from North Yorkshire Police’s Organised Crime Unit began a long investigation after an officer on duty in Harrogate saw a deal taking place between a pedestrian and a Peugeot car on March 28, 2012.
The vehicle was making regular trips between Harrogate and Bradford nearly every day and sometimes twice a day.
On April 12 and April 22 the Peugeot, driven by Michael Crowl, 27, of Woodfield View, Harrogate, and described as Ali’s lieutenant, was stopped by police.
He was allowed to go on his way after searches of the vehicle proved negative but three days later was stopped again. This time officers found 48 wraps of heroin and 30 wraps of crack, which could have been sold on the streets for between £10 and £20 each.
Despite Crowl’s arrest the drug runs continued and he was arrested again on 27 June. Officers found wraps of heroin and crack in the car he was travelling in and during a subsequent search of Crowl’s house, 25 wraps of crack were found hidden under a dog kennel.
Each time Crowl was arrested, Ali re-equipped him with a new car and mobile phone. On October 10, 2012, police arrested Ali.
Detective Inspector Mark Pearson, of North Yorkshire Police’s Organised Crime Unit, said the sentencing “brings a long investigation to a very satisfactory conclusion”.
He said: “A great deal of time and effort from officers in the Organised Crime Unit has gone into this case, with many hours being spent observing the conspiracy, gathering evidence and seizing illegal drugs.
“Wajid Ali was undoubtedly the ring leader and he preyed on the vulnerability of drug users in the Harrogate area, getting them to do his dirty work for him.
“Having said that, it doesn’t excuse the involvement of the other defendants, who knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. In particular, Michael Crowl, who despite being arrested several times continued the drug runs to Bradford on a daily basis.
“Heroin and crack cocaine are highly addictive and extremely harmful and uncovering this conspiracy has disrupted the supply of those substances into the Harrogate area.”
The defendants pleaded guilty to various offences at an earlier hearing and were sentenced today at Leeds Crown Court. Two other people avoided jail terms but were handed suspended sentences and a community service order.
Ali was sentenced to eight years in prison while Crowl was jailed for six years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Janine Cattermull, 28, of Southgate Avenue, Ripon, who accompanied Crowl on trips to Bradford, was jailed for four years.
Anthony Ross, 24 and of Westminster Place, Bradford, was jailed for 16 months for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and Katrina Gill, 30, of Spa Lane, Harrogate, was sentenced to four years for possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.