Cross-border heroin and cocaine couriers jailed

image caption(Clockwise from top left) Denise Briers, Daniel Keogh, Mohammed Patel, Toseef Qureshi and James Laird

A network of drug couriers has been jailed for distributing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of heroin.

James Laird, 44, from Lesmahagow, and Daniel Keogh, 40, from Ardrossan, were each jailed for three years. Denise Briers, 39, from Alva, was sentenced to four years and four months.

Two men from England were also jailed for three years.

The man who masterminded the operation, Sultan Mohammed, 53, from Barrhead, will be sentenced next month.

Police surveillance

Mohammed admitted his part in the drugs ring at the High Court in Glasgow last month.

The five others jailed on Friday also admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin while acting as couriers.

The court heard how Mohammed, who was previously jailed for drug dealing in 2002, was under surveillance by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) from November 2009.

The agency's six-month investigation revealed a network of individuals from the west coast of Scotland, West Yorkshire and Lancashire who were involved in the distribution of cocaine and heroin.

Denise Briers was arrested on 3 December 2009, when police stopped her car in the Lancashire area and found £37,000.

The money was analysed and found to be heavily contaminated with heroin.

Her home was subsequently searched and 1.2 kilos of heroin, with an estimated street value of £120,000 and half a kilo of cocaine, worth about £20,000, were recovered.

James Laird and Toseef Qureshi, 29, from Leeds, were arrested when they met at Happendon services on the M74 in Lanarkshire on 13 January 2010.

Laird was found in possession of one kilo of heroin, worth about £70,000.

Mohammed Patel, 25, from Blackburn, was then arrested on 1 February and found to be in possession of one kilo of heroin.

'Crime group'

On 26 February 2010, Daniel Keogh travelled to the West Yorkshire area. When he returned to Glasgow, he was stopped by police at Kilmarnock train station and found with one kilo of heroin.

Denise Briers was stopped again by police on 24 March 2010 on the way to Stirling. She was carrying 250 grams of heroin with an estimated street value of £25,000.

Speaking after the couriers were jailed, Det Sup Jim Reid, from SCDEA, said: "Our investigation revealed that those sentenced today were involved in a crime group responsible for supplying significant amounts of class A drugs intended for distribution on Scotland streets.

"They were moving significant amounts of illegal drugs and cash as part of a major drug dealing conspiracy operating across Scotland and England."

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