Friday, January 28, 2011

School teacher 'lived secret double life as cocaine baron', jury told at drugs trial

To his pupils he was just an ordinary teacher working in a busy secondary school.

But in reality Mohammed Sarwar was living a double life as a cocaine baron, a court was told.

As the alleged mastermind behind a major drugs gang he supplied large quantities of cocaine to dealers across a a major British city.

A jury heard he employed a staff of drivers who acted as drug couriers carrying up to a kilo of the Class A drug at a time to supply dealers across Manchester.

Nicknamed ‘The Teacher’, Sarwar, 30, acted as ‘managing director’ of the operation, issuing instructions and rules to his couriers, it was alleged.

Manchester Crown Court heard the father-of-one was strict with his workers, insisting they did not use drugs themselves and that they always looked smart and presentable.

The tutor, who taught at the 953-pupil Burnage Media Arts College in Manchester, is alleged to have orchestrated a ‘large-scale commercial enterprise’ selling cocaine and cannabis which included using a prison warder to supply drugs to inmates inside a jail.

He was arrested in 2009 following a police operation which bugged his car and kept his movements under surveillance.

Richard Vardon, prosecuting, said: ‘‘The conspiracy to supply cocaine was extremely well-organised, a large-scale commercial enterprise generating considerable profit for those involved.
‘At the centre of this organisation is Sarwar.
He was known by his nicknames, Baz, Bazza, but he was also known as 'The Teacher', for that was his occupation.’

Mr Vardon said that as well as supplying cocaine across Manchester, Sarwar was also involved in a conspiracy to supply cannabis to inmates at HMP Forest Bank in Salford.

The court heard one of his former couriers, Ben Davidson, 24, agreed to testify against him.
Mr Vardon said: ‘His evidence from the inside is vital in prosecuting such an organised criminal group.

‘He’s chosen a difficult road as someone who has informed. He will be regarded by those in the dock as a grass or other such unpleasant names.’

The former warehouseman told the court he was recruited into the gang when he lost his job and could not pay his rent.

He said: ‘It was a silly decision. Looking back on it, I’d looked at a lot of my friends driving about in £54,000 cars. I was struggling to get work, getting treated badly by employers, I suppose I got greedy and I needed a house.’

Mr Vardon said Davidson began work as a courier and soon became a valued member of the gang.

He calimed that Mohammed Sarwar trusted him to collect high value packages, including kilos of pure cocaine.

Davidson said he was provided with the rent money, a wage, a work phone (which he was told to dispose of every two to three days) and a rental car.

He said: ‘I took drugs, mostly cocaine, to dealers in the Longsight, Levenshulme, Moss Side and Wythenshawe areas.'

The court heard that, as part of his job, Sarwar gave him a set of rules to follow.Mr Davidson told the court: ‘He had rules, like tactics on how to evade capture. He said, "always be discreet, blend in, be presentable.

' "Don’t smoke cannabis, don’t register anything to your home address, no bill-paying, no registering on the electoral roll. If you’re caught, always say 'no comment' and never give your home address if stopped."’

He also claimed he handled sums of up to £100,000 for the gang and supplied a prison officer at HMP Forest Bank with cannabis and mobile phones allegedly at Sarwar’s instruction.

Davidson, formerly of Stalybridge, has admitted drug offences.

Sarwar of Ladybarn, Manchester, pleads not guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and supplying cannabis to inmates at HMP Forest Bank prison in Salford .

Others facing charges are Davidson’s mother, Leonie Barnes, 47, Imran Khalique, 29, Asim Bashir, 22, Ali Rehman, 24, Leanne Bryan, 27, Zeeshan Jameel, 24, and Ali Khan, 22, who all deny conspiracy to supply cocaine.

The case continues.

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