A “HIGHLY trusted” cannabis courier was caught with a £235,000 haul as he travelled on the M6.
Police attention was drawn to a black Audi A class as it headed north at around 2-30pm on November 10, 2021. It was stopped at Scout Green, between Shap and Tebay, Carlisle Crown Court heard.
“The reason for that stop was the multiple journeys that the traffic officers had noticed this vehicle making,” said prosecutor Brendan Burke. There had been 15 in total.
Driver Qamar Rashid, 42, remained with the vehicle while 33-year-old passenger Hoang Khanh initially fled but was quickly captured.
“Police smelled cannabis, searched the vehicle and on the rear seat was a laundry bag and an Aldi shopping bag containing vacuum-packed cannabis. More was found in the boot.”
This weighed in at 23.5kg and was potentially worth £235,000 if sold on the street to users.
Khanh, of no fixed address, was jailed for 12 months earlier this year after admitting possession of the class B controlled drug with intent to supply.:Rashid, of Grange Street, Walsall, initially denied that charge before entering a guilty plea on the day his case had been listed for trial.
“In addition to the trips that were logged on ANPR (automatic numberplate recognition), his (Rashid’s) phone was interrogated and showed online searches relating to the growing of cannabis,” said Mr Burke.
There were also 320 contacts between Rashid and another man. “He initially came into the narrative because in February the defendant was for saying he had received death threats from (that man) — if he didn’t pay him half a million pounds and provide him with copies of his court papers in this case,” said the prosecutor.
“There were no threats and in fact, quite conversely, it appeared there was a very friendly relationship between the two with multiple discussions about destinations and post codes being sent back and forth.”
Mr Burke added: “The Crown say he is a wiling and highly trusted courier with the expectation of significant financial reward for his part in the trafficking.”
Rashid, a man with no previous convictions, ran a car repair business. He said he was approached by an “unsavoury” mystery man, who asked him initially to inspect vehicles before the defendant became involved as a cannabis courier. “Although he has performed a significant role,” said his barrister, Keith Harrison, “he has very much been manipulated. This was one trip.”
Rashid cared for his partially blind mother, had run his repair business for many years and, said Mr Harrison: “He is terrified at the prospect of losing his liberty.”
Recorder Mark Ainsworth jailed Rashid for 30 months.
“You must understand why it is that courts take such a serious view with people who involve themselves in the supply of controlled drugs,” said the judge. “You only have to sit in these courts for a relatively short time and see a few cases to realise the misery that controlled drugs can cause in society.
“The dealing of drugs also involves people like yourself — people of good character — being dragged into these enterprises in the way that you were.”