Man cleared of £500k drug smuggling charges

Man cleared of £500k drug smuggling charges

A MAN from Ravensthorpe accused of conspiring to import heroin worth £500,000 has been found not guilty.

The jury in a case against Mohammed Aslam, 50, of Clarkson Street, returned its verdict on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Aslam told Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday the conspiracy was concocted by a friend and a Pakistani business associate.

He accused his friend Sokol Berisha and Sardar Khan of importing the drugs inside carpets while living at his house.

Mr Aslam said: “If I had thought for one moment they were involved under my roof then they would have been in serious trouble.”

Prosecutor Jeremy Hill-Baker claimed Sokol Berisha did not exist and was a fake identity created by Mr Aslam to carry out the conspiracy.

Mr Hill-Baker asked: “Is there a photograph you can show us of you and your friend Sokol Berisha over all these years? He didn’t exist, did he?”

But Mr Aslam said he did – and he was “100 per cent sure” he was involved in the alleged crime.

One man, Razwan Hussain, 28, Huddersfield, has already pleaded guilty to involvement in the conspiracy, which ran from March to June last year.

The court heard a carpet containing 18.85kg of heroin hidden inside was intercepted by Border Officials at Manchester Airport.

It was traced by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to a container in Lock Street, Thornhill Lees, rented by Hussain.

Mr Aslam told the court he did not know Hussain, a family friend, was involved until the trial started last week.

In a complex web of alleged deceit an email address was set up to contact the freight firm importing the carpets.

This was registered to Mr Aslam’s son’s boxing club in Cleckheaton and was set up using Mr Aslam’s mobile phone.

The prosecution claimed six other mobiles and a network of fake businesses were set up by Mr Aslam to conceal his alleged involvement.

Andrew Dallas, defending, said the phones could have been used by someone with access to Mohammed Aslam’s address and personal details.

The case was heard nine months after two men were jailed for a total of 16 years for firing shots outside Mr Aslam’s home.

Michael Bowman, 44, of no fixed address, and Mark Lennon, 40, of London, were convicted of firearms offences after an incident in June last year.

In that case the prosecution alleged that the men travelled to Mr Aslam’s house in Clarkson Street from London and that a row broke out over drugs, leading to the shooting incident. Bowman said that he, Lennon and an unknown third man had actually gone to buy iPhones.

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