A dozen men in a drugs gang headed up by “mastermind” Waqaas Khan from his prison cell, who sought to flood Accrington and Rossendale with class A drugs, have been sentenced to almost 55 years in prison combined.

Preston Crown Court heard the opening and mitigation to the case against 12 men, all from the area they sought to peddle misery in, last week (February 15 and 16), with Judge Ian Unsworth passing sentence on the defendants on Friday, February 23.

The offending related to Operation Supercharger, launched by Lancashire Police’s East Exploitation Team two years ago after a boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested in Rossendale in possession of drugs, £1,000 in cash, and a machete.

Prosecuting, Jamie Baxter said the defendants sought to supply class A drugs between September 2022 and June 2023.

He said: “The case concerns activities of an organised crime group in Accrington and Rossendale involved in the supply of class A crack cocaine and heroin, and trafficking in this case orchestrated through the use of dedicated drugs lines."

READ MORE: Men sought to flood Accrington and Rossendale with class A drugs

Mr Baxter said Waqaas Khan directed and coordinated the distribution of class A drugs from a prison cell using an illicit phone.

He “continued to control the operation and flow of drugs into East Lancashire, passing instructions to those acting on his behalf.”

Judge Unsworth, addressing Waqaas Khan as he began sentencing, said: “Having been made subject to 125 months in prison for being involved in another case involving trafficking of class A drugs, you provided the knowledge, influence, and contact to mastermind this further operation.

“It is plain you learned nothing from the sentence imposed just four months before.

"You regrouped, and within several weeks you obtained another mobile phone and started once again.

“You have shown no remorse. You will stop at nothing and will think nothing of recruiting members of your own family, associates, and young people, all of whom could do your dirty work for you.

“The fact you were in prison at the time made no difference to you at all. You were driving this along while in the confines of the prison, while others on the ground carried out the work for you.”

Addressing the group as a whole, Judge Unsworth said: “Each of you engaged to differing degrees in a business that peddles misery for users, their families, and their communities.

“They have to suffer the appalling effects of crime, degradation, and misery it brings to those caught in its wake.

“This case is depressingly familiar. It’s clear the ripple effects of this business and your involvement in this devastating and sometimes deadly trade spread far and wide.”

The sentences were as follows:

  • Waqaas Khan, 30, of no fixed address – 10 years and six months
  • Ibrahim Khan, 21, of College Street, Accrington – Five years and 11 months
  • Waqaar Khan, 27, of College Street, Accrington – Five years and 11 months
  • Sameer Hussain, 21, of Wheatholme Street, Rawtenstall – Five years and 11 months
  • Hamza Munir, 25, of College Street, Accrington – Five years and four months
  • Lee Thomas, 43, of Fallbarn Crescent, Rawtenstall – Four years
  • Hamza Anwar, 25, of Garbett Street, Accrington – Four years, minus 130 days remand
  • Basha Ulla, 37, of Richmond Hill Street, Accrington – 15 months
  • Martin Magee, 44, of Carr Road, Rawtenstall – Five years and two months, previous community order revoked
  • Peter Bell, 41, of Kenyon Street, Manchester – Four years
  • Thomas Linford, 25, of Claremont Terrace, Glasgow – 45 months
  • Muhammad Israeel, 18, of Wheatholme Street, Rawtenstall – 12 month youth rehabilitation order