News 16 April 2024

Police seize £17.2m worth of cocaine hidden inside blocks of Gouda cheese

16 April 2024

Lancashire Police have uncovered the largest-ever haul of cocaine in the force’s history, with a street value of £17.2 million concealed within blocks of cheese.

The seizure, totalling 217 kilos of the illicit substance, was made during a raid on a unit in Blackburn in May, where officers discovered the drugs ingeniously hidden inside blocks of gouda.

Following the operation, Saleem Chaudhri, 46, from Waterside, Blackburn, was sentenced to 27-and-a-half years at Preston Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to supply cocaine and money laundering. Meanwhile, Rieddul Mohabath, 28, from Dean Road, South Shields, received a 16-year sentence on Monday for his involvement in the conspiracy.

The police’s investigation unfolded after observing Chaudhri receiving a Toyota estate from a known drugs courier and subsequently driving it to the Old Fire Station in Blackburn. Upon raiding the premises, officers discovered the class A drug concealed within blocks of cheese and other materials, all meticulously prepared for distribution.

Further evidence revealed Chaudhri’s extensive involvement in drug trafficking, with records indicating agreements to sell over 2,000 kilos of cocaine, valued at more than £70 million, between September 2022 and May 2023.

Detective Sergeant Haydn Sibley of Lancashire Police emphasised the significance of the arrests, stating, “Chaudhri and his associates went to great lengths to hide their product, and with the amount of cocaine seized – the biggest haul ever in Lancashire – you can understand why.”

He underscored the severity of the sentences as a clear message to those involved in drug supply operations within the region.

[Image created via MidJourney]