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News (Media Awareness Project) - UK: Anti-Drugs Worker Became Heroin Fugitive
Title:UK: Anti-Drugs Worker Became Heroin Fugitive
Published On:2011-08-01
Source:Yorkshire Post (UK)
Fetched On:2011-08-03 06:00:52

A community worker who visited Yorkshire schools to warn pupils of the
dangers of drugs became a key player in a multi-million-pound
international heroin smuggling operation.

Law graduate Mahfooz Ahmed, 35, supported drug users in his hometown
of Halifax and carried out research for the Government in
taxpayer-funded schemes to help tackle the social problems caused by
substance abuse.

But after falling into financial difficulty, he became embroiled in
drug dealing and went on the run after customs officers found heroin
worth UKP 1.36m in a suitcase he had been carrying.

He committed further offences during more than five years as a
fugitive, eventually becoming the subject of a European Arrest Warrant
over his involvement in a major conspiracy to smuggle the drug into
Britain from Turkey via mainland Europe.

Ahmed's fall from grace emerged yesterday at Leeds Crown Court, where
he was jailed for 12 years after admitting possessing heroin with
intent to supply.

Prosecutor Paul Valder told the court Ahmed came to the authorities'
attention in March 2005 during an undercover surveillance operation
which had targeted one of his associates, suspected criminal Babar
Hussain, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

An accomplice of Ahmed's, who has not been identified, dropped a
suitcase containing 50 blocks of high-purity heroin in a Halifax
street and fled after he spotted customs officers. Minutes earlier,
the man had been travelling in a Skoda driven by Ahmed.

Customs officers later searched Ahmed's home in Mayfield Drive,
Halifax, and found mobile phone records which eventually linked him to
other drug dealers.

Officers also found that he and Hussain had taken several flights to
and from Amsterdam during the latter half of 2004, with Ahmed usually

Ahmed remained at large until October last year when he was arrested
in a supermarket car park in north London. At the time he was wanted
by police in Belgium for offences committed between September 2007 and
March 2009.

In November 2009 a court in Brussels had sentenced him to five years
in prison in his absence after hearing he had been a conduit on behalf
of a dealer organising shipments of heroin from Turkey to the UK via
the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Two shipments contained a total of 144kg of heroin - about 12 times as
much as that recovered in the suitcase in Halifax.

From June 2000 until September 2001, Ahmed had worked as a project
co-ordinator on behalf of the Department of Health and the University
of Central Lancashire, researching drug use in parts of Halifax among
minority groups.

He went on to work for the voluntary-sector organisation Lifeline
Calderdale until April 2003, providing one-to-one support with issues
surrounding substance misuse.

Recorder Jonathan Bennett, sentencing, told Ahmed it was "appalling"
that he had been willing to become involved in the drugs trade after
seeing its effects first hand.

"You went into schools, motivating young people, telling them about
drugs and the effect they were going to have on their community," the
recorder said.

Louise Wilson, defending Ahmed, said he knew he had been "immensely
stupid" and had brought shame on his family.

Ahmed claimed he had run away because he had been threatened by
Hussain and feared for his life.

Malcolm Bragg, assistant director of the UK Border Agency, said: "Drug
smuggling is a vile business that exploits the misery of others for an
easy profit. Heroin destroys the lives not only of users, but also
their families and the surrounding community."
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