Drug dealer jailed after raid on flat uncovered £½m in cupboard

OFFICERS found almost half a million pounds in cash in a cupboard when they searched a Yorkshire flat uncovered as a commercial cocaine dealing operation.

Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday the money came from the proceeds of earlier drug sales from the premises in Meltham Road, Huddersfield and the supply was continuing.

Paul Mitchell, prosecuting, said just over a kilogramme in cocaine was also found, along with drums of a cutting agent which would have been sufficient to make deals worth 2.4m if mixed in the future to a normal street deal purity of around 15 percent.

He told the court officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency searched the flat after arresting Majid Ali who had been seen entering and leaving on the evening of September 24.

He told the police: "I'm not the main guy. I'm just working for somebody, I can't say who he is, I don't want to put my family in danger."

Ali, 39, of Moorbottom Road, Thornton Lodge, Huddersfield, was jailed for 12 years after he admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine, concealing criminal property and possessing drugs.

Mr Mitchell said the flat in Meltham Road was sparsely furnished and was clearly being used as a drug dealing operation rather than a home.

Most of the cash was found in two black Puma holdalls inside a built-in cupboard in the living room.

Both were stuffed with bundles of 5,000 in Scottish and English banknotes totalling almost 200,000 in each, but there was a further amount of cash in bundles in the cupboard.

The total recovered was 487,590 which would be consistent with the sale of around nine to 20 kilogrammes of cocaine depending on its quality and weight.

In the kitchen the officers discovered a Tupperware box containing different bags of cocaine totalling 1.19 kilogrammes which was about 67 per cent purity, four times typical street purity.

They also found three 25 kilogramme brown cardboard barrels containing chemicals typically used as cutting agents for cocaine including one in a wardrobe.

Mr Mitchell told the court if the chemicals were used to reduce cocaine to a normal street level purity of 15 per cent it would provide the dealers with up 2.4m.

Other items recovered included an electronic cash counting machine, an electronic counter surveillance bug detector, an electronic mobile phone signal jammer and a dealers' list on two pieces of A4 paper.

The scale of the deals was shown by the fact one of the customers owed 57,250, he said.

Officers also searched Ali's girlfriend's address in Wood Edge Avenue, Huddersfield where Diazepam pills were found.

Ali later admitted that the pills were his.

Mr Mitchell said Ali had a "healthy lifestyle" in terms of cash clothing and belongings not supported by a legitimate income.

Richard Wright for Ali said he made 1,800 a month after tax from employment with a transport company.

The court heard Ali was jailed for six years in April 2004 at Bradford Crown Court for drugs offences involving Ecstasy and cannabis.

Jailing Ali, Mr Justice Openshaw said there had to be stiff sentences for such a large scale commercial cocaine operation and it was an aggravating feature he had a previous conviction.

"Drug dealing on this scale attracts the worse type of criminal. It brings in its wake much human misery and degradation and of course debt which fuels further offending."