Operation Picasso sees Pendle drugs gang jailed following brush with the law

A wannabe kingpin who exploited vulnerable people into selling heroin and crack cocaine has been jailed.
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Police launched Operation Picasso to take down the Pablo Line, which was run by defendant Amir Shah.

The evidence officers gathered proved Shah conspired with co-defendants Pavol Kantor and Shaun Dowd to supply Class A drugs between August 2021 and February 2022.

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On September 2, 2021, officers stopped a man and a woman in Colne who were found to be in possession of heroin and crack cocaine. When searching their home they found more drugs and a burner phone which showed they were being controlled by “Pablo”, aka Amir Shah. The drugs seized were valued at £910.

Amir Shah, 26, of Blackburn Road, Great Harwood – six years custodyAmir Shah, 26, of Blackburn Road, Great Harwood – six years custody
Amir Shah, 26, of Blackburn Road, Great Harwood – six years custody

On November 4th, 2021, two men were pursued by officers in a stolen car from Manchester, which they abandoned in Lancashire. While getting out of the car they were seen to discard mobile phones and a quantity of heroin and crack cocaine. The phones were examined and found to have ‘Pablo New’ and “The Real Pablo” in their contacts. Those phones were shown to have been in contact with a number attributed to Shah.

On November 18th, 2021, Dowd was stopped driving a Volkswagen Passat and found to be in possession of heroin and a mobile phone. While Dowd was being searched his phone was constantly ringing, with PK popping up on the screen. Evidence proved PK was Pavel Kantor – a drug dealer for the Pablo Line.

Shah was arrested at a property in Colne on December 9th, 2021, with a mobile phone and iPad seized.

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On February 17th, 2022, a warrant was obtained for Kantor’s house in Colne. Police found heroin, crack cocaine and a burner phone.

Pavol Kantor, 22, Windsor Street, Colne – three years custodyPavol Kantor, 22, Windsor Street, Colne – three years custody
Pavol Kantor, 22, Windsor Street, Colne – three years custody

Enquiries revealed that three burner phones attributed to the Pablo Line had been in Shah’s possession throughout the length of the conspiracy.

Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, the three defendants were charged with conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin – offences they subsequently pleaded guilty to.

At Preston Crown Court on October 10th they were sentenced to the following:

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Amir Shah (26) of Blackburn Road, Great Harwood – six years custody.

Shaun Dowd, 38, of Harper Street, Barnoldswick – two years and six months custodyShaun Dowd, 38, of Harper Street, Barnoldswick – two years and six months custody
Shaun Dowd, 38, of Harper Street, Barnoldswick – two years and six months custody

Pavol Kantor (22) Windsor Street, Colne – three years custody.

Shaun Dowd (38) of Harper Street, Barnoldswick – two years and six months custody.

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DC Georgina Green, of the East Target Crime Team, said: “Shah exploited some of the most vulnerable members of society for his own pure greed. He behaved like a drugs king pin and thought he was above the law. The hard work and dedication of my colleagues has resulted in Shah’s drugs empire being shattered and a spell in custody for him and his co-defendants.”

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Operation Picasso comes under the banner of Operation Warrior, which is our response to tackling serious and organised crime in Lancashire and delivering on Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden's Fighting Crime Plan priority of disrupting and dismantling organised crime.

Mr Snowden said: “It's important that we send a clear message to criminals that police are coming to get you, and this is another great example of the work officers do, every single day, to disrupt and dismantle organised crime gangs and put them behind bars.

“It's what Op Warrior is all about, taking the fight to criminals that blight our communities, delivering on my Fighting Crime Plan and seeing even more arrests, more asset seizures and more drugs off our streets. Results like this, which will directly make Lancashire safer, are what the public want to see and deliver on a top priority in my Fighting Crime Plan.

“I would encourage anyone to report suspicious activity, or any information that might help in bringing criminals to justice. We continue to go after more and make sure those involved in organised crime feel the full force of the law and have their day in court.”

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Meanwhile, Mr Snowden has commended the work of Lancashire Constabulary's team of financial investigators for the work being done to remove ill-gotten gains from offenders.

The Commissioner visited the Economic Crime Unit and saw how investment into its expansion he has provided is delivering results.

This follows new data revealing that £825,000 has been seized from criminals over a six month period alone, alongside officers investigating £2.6m in assets such as cash, bank accounts, jewellery, rings, gift cards, and watches.

Through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), Lancashire Constabulary have powers to confiscate money or assets gained by criminals during the course of their criminal activity.

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Since becoming Commissioner, Andrew set out an aggressive approach to asset seizures, and through his Fighting Crime Plan pledged to increase the amount of money and assets taken from criminals so that crime doesn’t pay in Lancashire, particularly with Op Warrior, the joint campaign with Lancashire Constabulary disrupting and dismantling organised crime.

He continues to work with the Chief Constable to increase the number of personal asset seizures including cash, vehicles, firearms, drugs and look at ways to reinvest cash back into the community.

His Safer Lancashire Neighbourhoods Fund alone has so far provided around £870k to community schemes and innovative projects that deter crime, make communities safer and help address the root causes of offending.

Andrew Snowden, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire said: “I'm committed to making sure crime doesn't pay here in Lancashire and alongside removing criminals from our streets, seizing their ill-gotten gains is another way we send this message loud and clear.

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“These fantastic results show that, wherever possible, we will hit offenders where it often hurts the most, in their wallets. I visited the team of financial investigators focused on stripping these assets from criminals and saw the hard work and dedication that goes into making these successes a reality. Even without a prosecution, civil powers can be used to seize assets gained through suspected criminal enterprise.”