A WORCESTER taxi driver caught with cocaine worth up to £200,000 in his cab has been jailed for six years.
Secret drug addict Saheed Iqbal, of Carlisle Road, Ronkswood, was acting as a courier and using his taxi to ferry drugs into the city to pay off a £10,000 debt to his dealers, Worcester Crown Court was told.
The 37-year-old had already used all of his family savings and taken out loans to fund the habit he had hidden from his family until his arrest on November 13, last year, the court heard.
Simon Phillips, prosecuting, told the court Iqbal was stopped by police in Conway, off Tolladine Road at around 3pm after he was seen driving erratically. They saw a passenger get into the cab and get out again a short distance later which made them suspicious. They searched the taxi and found one kilo of cocaine hidden in a compartment. It had a purity of 78 percent and was worth between £70,000 and £100,000 but could have been cut to produce the usual street level purity of 39 per cent, which would have increased its value to between £140,000 and £200,000.
Iqbal, who pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply, said he had not handled the drugs himself but had fetched them from Birmingham where they were put into the car by someone else. When he arrived in Worcester, they were taken out by another person and he was only involved as a courier. He admitted carrying out the trip once or twice a week for up to two months before his arrest.
Jason Patel, defending, handed in a number of references and said Iqbal, who had no previous convictions. was part of a strong Pakistani community in the city. He had brought shame on his extended family, Mr Patel said, after he got into financial difficulties and started using cocaine.
“The addiction took over and he used all the family savings,” Mr Patel said. “He ended up owing £10,000 to his dealer and he went on to carry these drugs though he was unaware of the quantity.”
Mr Patel said Iqbal had been tackling his addiction while on remand in custody.
Judge Nicolas Cartwright said Iqbal’s role was as a courier as he worked to pay off the debt.
“The drugs would have found their way into the bodies of users in the city of Worcester,” the judge said.
After the sentencing, DI Stuart Murphy, of West Mercia Police, said: “This highlights our commitment in South Worcestershire to tackle those who supply Class A drugs to our communities.
“Those who deal in this commodity may think the financial rewards are tempting however, having your liberty taken away from you for six years as in Mr Iqbal’s case will serve to remind those involved that you will go to prison for a long time.
“Drugs are a blight, and bring misery to neighbourhoods, those addicted to them and their families.”