'Trusted lieutenants' of Leeds drug gang boss caught transporting £25,000 worth of heroin across city
Two 'trusted lieutenants' of a Leeds drug gang boss were caught transporting £25,000 of heroin across Leeds.
Shofiqul Islam and Arif Islam were arrested shortly after police observed them meeting with Leeham Stewart in a car park in Roundhay.
The pair are the latest defendants to be sentenced as part of major police operation launched in 2019 to catch members of Leeds-based drug dealing operation which 'spanned the Pennines'.
Gang members made regular trips to Blackpool to collect drugs before storing them at properties in Leeds.
Nine people have already been jailed to a total of more than 60 years at Leeds Crown Court over their involvement in the cocaine and heroin supply operation.
Leeham Stewart - previously described in court as "the chief executive officer" of the illegal operation - is due to be sentenced next month.
Mark McKone, prosecuting, said Leeham Stewart drove his Mercedes to a secluded car park in Kirkstall on March 18, 2019, and met with people who were in an Audi.
A man from the Audi briefly got into Leeham Stewart’s Mercedes.
Later that day, Stewart parked his Mercedes next to the Audi on Upland Road, Roundhay.
A Toyota Yaris, in which Shofiqul and Arif were travelling, parked close by.
The defendants got out of the Yaris then approached the Audi.
Mr McKone said it is the prosecution's case that a drugs exchange took place shortly after 8pm, with Leeham Stewart being present but getting someone else to physically transfer the drugs.
At 8.15pm the Yaris was stopped by police in Chapeltown.
Inside Shofiqul’s man bag was a block of 496g of heroin of 62 percent purity with a value of £24,800.
Shofiqul also had a second package containing 27.3g of heroin at 56 percent purity, valued at £1365, which was not in the bag.
Phone evidence showed significant phone contact between Leeham Stewart and Shofiqul both just before and just after the drugs handover.
Shofiqul, 28, of Potternewton Mount, and Arif, 24, of no fixed address, both pleaded guilty to possession of heroin with intent to supply.
Arif has served a prison sentence in the past for supplying heroin.
Imran Khan, mitigating for Shofiqul, said his client has no previous convictions and had been acting as a courier at the time of the offence.
Phillip Mahoney, for Arif, said his client pleaded guilty to offence at an early stage and accepted he would be facing a further prison sentence.
Arif was jailed for five years, five months and Shofiqul was jailed for four years, ten months.
Sentencing, Judge Robin Mairs said: "This was not small scale dealing.
"This was not a limited number of wraps supplied on the street to other addicts.
"This was part of a commercial and professional operation involving significant quantities of drugs at a high purity.
"Both of you were involved.
"Anyone who is in a position of transporting high purity drugs is a trusted lieutenant in that organisation.
"You were trusted with a large quantity of high value drugs".