Burnley drugs trafficker who tried to shield himself from prosecution jailed for 11 years

A drugs trafficker from Burnley who sold large quantities of Class A drugs around the UK and in Europe has been jailed for 11 years and three months.

Imtiaz Shah (42) was identified by Lancashire Police officers as a user of an encrypted phone used by criminals to try and avoid detection.

Operation Venetic is an international operation targeting criminals who used a mobile encryption service, commonly referred to as Encrochat, in an attempt to fly under the radar of the law enforcement agencies.

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Over a six-week period between April and May 2020, Shah acquired and sold wholesale quantities of cocaine and heroin to other drug dealers.

Imtiaz ShahImtiaz Shah
Imtiaz Shah

When the prices of those drugs began to increase because of the Coronavirus lockdown Shah also branched out into selling cannabis. Evidence also showed he was prepared to sell amphetamine and ketamine.

Shah used other people to handle and deliver the drugs for him in a failed attempt to lower the risk to himself of being arrested.

Shah, of Colne Road, Burnley, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of heroin, cocaine and cannabis.

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On Friday (January 14th) he was sentenced to 11 years and three months custody at Burnley Crown Court.

Shah will face a Proceeds of Crime Hearing later this year, where any assets he has obtained via his illegal activities are likely to be seized.

Det. Chief Insp Tim Brown, of East Division, said: “Imtiaz Shah believed he was able to hide his criminal activity from the police. He instructed others to do his criminal bidding in a misguided attempt to shield himself from criminal prosecution.

“Following an exemplary investigation from Lancashire Police detectives, Shah is now at the start of what is a significant custodial sentence. I hope the outcome of this case acts as a warning to others who think they can commit serious criminal acts and evade prosecution. We will do everything in our power to identify you, bring you to justice and protect our communities.

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“Drug traffickers spread misery in the communities in which they operate and often exploit the most vulnerable members of society. I would urge anybody with information on criminal activity in their area to contact the police via 101, knowing that we will listen and act on any information provided.”