THE recovery of a kilogram of heroin after a police pursuit led detectives to a multimillion pound drugs network orchestrated from prison.

Imran Bashir was already serving a 14-year sentence for importing drugs in his native Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Bashir was investigated after the arrest of Urfan Hussain and Asif Hussain after a minibus was stopped as it made its way back from Oldham to Teesside in July last year after collecting heroin.

The supply network, which spread from Teesside to the North-West and down to Bedfordshire, was exposed through the tracing of mobile phone calls.

Yesterday, four men were found guilty of conspiring to supply heroin after a twomonth trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Majid Khan, who was the head of the Cleveland network, Mohammed Akram, Qaisr Razak and Asad Mahmood were all found guilty, while seven other defendants pleaded guilty either before or during the trial.

The jury was told that Bashir, 35, of Garth Prison, Lancashire, along with Terrence Agiadis, 24, of Glendale Road, Saltersgill, Middlesbrough, Asif Hussain, 29, formerly of Waterloo Road, Middlesbrough, Toby Williamson, 20, of Coverdale, Hemlington, Middlesbrough, and Majid Hussain, 37, of Hurst Grove, Bedford, admitted conspiring to supply heroin.

Speaking after the trial, Detective Inspector Dave Mead of Cleveland Police, who led the investigation, said: “We had been watching Majid Khan for some time because we knew he was involved in bringing large quantities of heroin into the area and was a respected name amongst the drugs community.

“There was a lot of hard work involved in breaking the code once we discovered that Bashir’s wife was allowing her husband to make conference calls when speaking to him.”

The operation recovered 3kg of heroin after raids across the Cleveland force area, but detectives believe the operation had resulted in millions of pounds worth of drugs hitting the streets of the region.

Det Insp Mead said: “This was a great result for everyone concerned and we need to praise the prison authorities for all of their help to bring down this multi-million pound drugs gang.”

The network began to crumble when police forced a van to pull over on the A19 and Asif Hussain ran off into Stainsby Wood before throwing away a bag containing 985g of heroin. The package, found by a police dog, was said to be worth £98,500.

Majid Khan, 29, of Marton Road, Middlesbrough, Akram, 25, of Windsor Road, Middlesbrough, Razak, 25, of Normanby Road, Middlesbrough, and Mahmood, 39, of Wheeldale, Oldham, along with those who pleaded guilty, will be sentenced at a later date.

Bashir’s wife, Aliyah Khan, 32, of Newton Street, Droylsden, Manchester, admitted money-laundering.

Urfan Hussain, 29, of Marton Road, Middlesbrough, Palminder Chohan, 29, of The Elms, Kempston, Bedford, and Karl Waterfield, 40, of Scholes Street, Oldham, were all cleared of conspiracy to supply drugs.