"buying and selling on a commercial scale"
Yusuf Ali, aged 30, of Newport, Wales, was jailed for 12 years after he ran a heroin empire from his own home.
He was caught as a result of Operation Venetic. This saw the National Crime Agency and police bust thousands of criminal conspiracies across the UK.
Ali would regularly travel to Bolton, St Helens, Bristol and Stafford to buy heroin on a “commercial scale” from upstream suppliers.
Kilos of heroin were then delivered to his house by couriers.
Ali used EncroChat, an encrypted phone network used by criminals. But in 2020, police were able to crack the wall of security surrounding the system, which had enabled crime gangs to operate without detection.
Andrew Jones, prosecuting, said: “The defendant used [EncroChat] to communicate with other suppliers on a commercial scale and a network of distributors.
“It’s quite clear he was sourcing and distributing consignments of heroin and selling them to other members of downstream groups.
“He was organised in the buying and selling on a commercial scale and had established links and influence on others in the supply chain and expected a high financial gain.”
Ali was in frequent contact with a Liverpool-based dealer and spoke about buying heroin for around £20,000 per kilo.
On several occasions, a courier delivered “samples” to Ali’s address in Adeline Street.
Ali was also sent photos that depicted blocks of heroin.
In June 2020, Ali was arrested and made no comment in the police interview but he later pleaded guilty to selling six kilograms of heroin between March and June 2020.
Mr Jones added that Ali had four previous drug-related convictions.
In mitigation, Jonathan Rees QC said his client’s dealing was “relatively small” compared to other defendants involved with Operation Venetic.
He also said that Ali felt “significant remorse” having missed his daughter’s birth after being remanded in custody.
At Newport Crown Court, Judge Jeremy Jenkins told Ali:
“You had substantial links with others in the chain of supply and I am satisfied you were involved in directing, organising, and selling large quantities of Class A drugs.
“I am satisfied you knew exactly what you were doing, communicating with a large number of customers and potential customers, and you knew from past experience the consequence that would inevitably follow upon your detection.
“It was a large and busy enterprise and you no doubt profited from it at great levels.”
Wales Online reported that Ali was jailed for 12 years.
Detective Constable Gareth Small said:
“Yusuf Ali may have benefitted financially in the short term by involving himself in the illegal supply of drugs, but he is now paying the consequences of his actions following this 12-year sentence.
“This significant outcome should act as a warning to anyone who has decided to enter in the world of drug dealing and supply.
“Gwent Police will continue to investigate those involved in the supply of controlled drugs which blight our communities and cause substantial misery to vulnerable people often leading to other forms of criminal behaviour.
“We always welcome to help and support of our communities to assist with the apprehension and detention of these criminals, many of whom believe that they are untouchable.
“Anyone wishing to provide information to Gwent Police can do so anonymously either by calling 101 or Crimestoppers UK on 0800 555 111.
“All information provided will be dealt with in the strictest of confidence.”