A blind man has been jailed for 21 years after he was described as the “mastermind” of two plots to supply Class A drugs in West Yorkshire.
University graduate Rizwan Arshad also played a part in a third conspiracy in Burnley.
Leeds Crown Court heard in spite of his disability he was the leader who ran the operation involving the distribution of heroin and cocaine and massive amounts of cutting agents in the Bradford and Huddersfield areas, the first in 2012 and the second while on bail last year.
Arshad, of Bradford, was one of six men jailed by Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC for their parts in the “sophisticated and planned enterprise.”
A Batley man, Matthew Francois, who headed up the Huddersfield side of the operation, was jailed for 10 years.
And a Huddersfield woman was also in court for her part in the operation. Samantha Colquhoun, 28, of Horse Bank Drive, Lockwood, who admitted permitting the use of premises for supplying Class A drugs, was given 18 months in prison suspended for two years with a 30 day activity requirement.
The judge told Arshad, 33, that his barrister had asked for a discount because of the difficulties he will face in prison through his blindness but said: “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.
“It is an indication of your sheer intelligence being at the heart of the essence of these matters.
“It may be incredible to the observer that someone of your undoubted disability was managing to run and managing to co-ordinate and fulfil the needs of such a conspiracy”
Police observations showed Arshad had a BMW car through the Motability scheme and would rely on other drivers “and lieutenants” to help him with his activities.
Andrew Kershaw, prosecuting, suggested he had a second home in Salford Quays as well as Lower Rushton Road, Bradford.
He made at least one trip to Dubai and another to Amsterdam that year while also enjoying a holiday with his wife in Mauritius.
Police surveillance revealed regular meetings in Bradford, Huddersfield and South Yorkshire and huge amounts of cash and drugs were seized.
“The object was to supply in the streets of this area a mass of cocaine or heroin with the aim of enriching you Arshad and those around you,” said Judge Durham Hall.
Detective Insp Philip Little said: “The investigations of Arshad and his associates showed him to be the head of an established organised crime group whose criminal activities in trafficking controlled drugs and cutting agent stretched across West Yorkshire and beyond. He will now spend a lengthy period in prison.”
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.
Francois, 36, of Benny Park Close, Batley admitted one charge of conspiracy.
Others sentenced were Aftab Basharat (8 years), Ramunas Venckus, (5 years), Mohammed Nawaz (30 months), Khurum Shazad, (28 months), and Paul Harrison, Fezan Mahmood and Stuart Walton (all suspended sentences).