Three men have been jailed after £20,000 worth of cocaine was recovered from a taxi travelling on the M1 in Derbyshire.
Naeem Iqbal, Ishmal Khan and Yasser Shan were arrested in January 2016 in connection with the plot to bring the Class A substance into the East Midlands from the Thames Valley area.
The investigation into the group, led by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) and supported by Derbyshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police, intensified in August 2015 when 0.25kg of high purity cocaine was found under the front passenger seat of a VW Passat taxi. The car was being driven north on the M1 near Chesterfield by Shan, accompanied by Iqbal.
The men were accused of making similar, regular trips between July and August of that year. They operated their illicit trade under the guise of a Derby taxi cab to courier the drugs from the south. Not one fare had been taken.
Khan and Shan previously pleaded guilty at Derby Crown Court to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Iqbal was found guilty following a trial. On Friday 13 January 2017 the trio were sentenced to the following terms of imprisonment:
* Naeem Iqbal, aged 32, of Douglas Street in Normanton, Derbyshire: 12 years.
* Ishmal Khan, aged 44, of Whurley Way in Maidenhead, Berkshire: Nine years and seven months.
* Yasser Shan, aged 34 of Bromford Lane in Erdington, Birmingham: Five years and six months.
A fourth man, from the Thames Valley area, was acquitted of the offence.
His Honour Judge Jonathan Bennett commended the investigating officers for the case preparation, presentation and analytical work carried out during the inquiry.
Detective Sergeant Harry Rai, who led the case, said: "This was a complex investigation into a criminal syndicate who used various methods to distribute high purity cocaine around the country and into Derbyshire. Their tactic of choice was a taxi, thinking their journeys across the country would be less conspicuous. But the only fares they carried were drugs and we were onto them.
"From the value of the drugs recovered, which were of a very high purity, it was quite clear these individuals were making a substantial financial gain at the expense of the health and safety of our communities."