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Dad used Encrochat to make plans to smuggle cocaine from Holland in frozen chicken vans

A Bolton businessman used Encrochat to concoct plans to smuggle huge quantities of cocaine and cannabis from Holland, a jury has been told.

The notes section of an Encrochat user called 'West Street' contained an "import route" from the European country.

Prosecution barrister Neil Fryman alleges that West Street is the username of recycling company director Irtiza Bashir.

Telling the court that Mr Bashir is the director of Haslingden-based business Globe Recycling Services, Mr Fryman alleged that the dad-of-two had been leading a double life. He said: "It's a business that has been doing very well indeed. The Crown's case is that this defendant is both a good businessman and a major drug dealer."

Mr Fryman told a jury of eight women and four men that Mr Bashir played a 'senior' role in a conspiracy that took place between October 2019 and December 2021, and involved a number of people, including Sohail Ali, who went by the username 'Liquid Emu' on Encrochat. Ali, 37, of Revidge Road, Blackburn, has previously admitted to being involved in the conspiracy.

Analysis of the 'West Street' Encrochat account shows that a high number of messages were sent from a device in close proximity to Mr Bashir's home.

Photographs sent from 'West Street' to Ali and another user called 'Sword Spark' also depicted Mr Bashir's house and garden, the prosecution alleged.

"Whoever's using West Street sends a message 'relaxing bro, watching a movie' and sends a picture," Mr Fryman told the court. "Police checked that against [Mr Bashir's] actual house and it's the same.

"The prosecution say you don't have to be Einsteen or a rocket scientist. That's this defendant revealing that he's using West Street."

Messages used code words such as tops (cocaine), bottoms (heroin), green (cannabis) and pcs (kilos), Mr Fryman alleged. "36,000€ to Purple for 10pcs", one read.

Another read to the jury by Mr Fryman said: “10pcs sold today for 44,000”. He added: “There are many agreements and discussions to buy and sell cocaine on a huge scale.”

In one sent on March 30 2020, 'West Street' allegedly said to Ali: “Stop having work done at your house, you've got 25 tops around you”.

"This defendant’s annoyed with him because he has workmen at his house and at same time he has 25kgs of cocaine on him - a million pounds worth of cocaine," Mr Fryman told the jury. "The Crown say he was very unhappy that Ali had builders round with this amount of the commodity present."

Bragging to a user called 'Space Raider', 'West Street' wrote in one message: “Mad though, 1kg of tops is worth the same as a kg of gold."

In the notes section of the 'West Street' Encrochat account was an "extensive" plan to smuggle drugs from the continent. Mr Fryman said: “The importation of the cocaine included an extensive plan.

"The setting up of a drugs importation route from Holland, involving the packing of cocaine within frozen chicken and transporting this to a cold storage unit in the Blackburn/Accrington area. A unit was successfully located and was due to be fitted with a cold store and food licences were to be obtained.”

Police executed warrants at Mr Bashir and Ali's homes on December 16 2021, as well as Globe Recycling Services. At Mr Bashir's home they found thousands of pounds in cash, a passport, designer clothes and an iPhone. Inside a storage unit in Ali's back garden, officers found three blocks in an Asda bag - one of 71pc purity cocaine and the other two were cutting agents.

Mr Bashir's iPhone was examined and on it there was a photograph of another home in Chorley New Road, which Mr Fryman described as a "very very expensive house", which was bought by Mr Bashir for "over a million pounds".

During a police interview, Mr Bashir answered no comment to all questions. He denies two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, conspiracy to fraudulently evade prohibition on importation of Class A drugs, conspiracy to fraudulently evade prohibition on importation of Class B drugs, and conspiracy to possess criminal property.



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