A Watford gang kingpin is set to face 27-and-a-half years in jail over drugs and gun charges.

Mohammed Waqas Khan, 35, received the lengthy prison sentence at Luton Crown Court today (April 26) after previously being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and ketamine, possession of firearms with intent to cause fear of violence, and possession of ammunition .

He led an organised crime group based in Watford and Luton which was responsible for wholesale distribution of cocaine and heroin nationwide.

Watford Observer: Mohammed Waqas Khan.Mohammed Waqas Khan. (Image: ERSOU)

According to the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which investigated Khan, it involved a hierarchy of criminals including a lieutenant, couriers, and subordinates who stored drugs and firearms.

ERSOU Detective Chief Inspector Steve Dowty said: “It is difficult to overstate the impact that dismantling this OCG will have had on our communities.

“This group of criminals imported enormous amounts of class A drugs into the UK, which will have caused widespread harm up and down the country both in terms of the medical effects of the substances as well as the wider criminality and exploitation associated with drug dealing.”

Watford Observer: Seized cash.Seized cash. (Image: ERSOU)

Police say that Khan, of Princes Avenue, Watford, believed himself beyond the reach of UK law enforcement, due to living in Dubai, but he returned to his family home in Watford in March 2020 due to Covid lockdown.

At around the same time, Operation Venetic was launched which uncovered thousands of message exchanges by criminals using the EncroChat communications tool and was able to provide a picture of his role coordinating the group, under the handle Bigpablito.com.

Watford Observer: Seized drug blocks.Seized drug blocks. (Image: ERSOU)

In April 2020, raids led to the simultaneous arrest of Khan and associates Mohammed Ahmed, Aris Saghir, and Zakir Farid and the recovery of several kilogrammes of cocaine and heroin, cash, six firearms, and 180 rounds of ammunition.

Messages showed they were likely to have imported and distributed hundreds and potentially thousands of kilogrammes of illicit drugs.

Watford Observer: Hand gun.Hand gun. (Image: ERSOU)Watford Observer: Guns wrapped in plastic.Guns wrapped in plastic. (Image: ERSOU)

Michael Orishadare, 31, of New Hythe Lane, Aylesford in Kent, who used connections in the Netherlands to import drugs into the UK, primarily through Tilbury Docks, was jailed for 24 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin.

Watford Observer: Michael Orishadare.Michael Orishadare. (Image: ERSOU)

The pair’s jail terms bring total sentences so far for the gang to 83-and-a-half years. 

Those already sentenced include:

Mohammed Ahmed, 39, of Avondale Road, Luton, a storekeeper who kept six handguns and 180 rounds of ammunition as well as several kilogrammes of cocaine. He was jailed for 13-and-a-half years in November 2022.

Watford Observer: Mohammed Ahmed.Mohammed Ahmed. (Image: ERSOU)

Mohammed Shergul Khan, 37, of Dunstable Road, Luton, a courier and storekeeper who was arrested with 23kg of cocaine and heroin and 25kg of MDMA. He was jailed for 10-and-a-half years in November 2022.

Watford Observer:  Mohammed Shergul Khan. Mohammed Shergul Khan. (Image: ERSOU)

Aftab Ayub, 34, of Ascot Road, Luton, who was stopped on the M1 with 20kg of cocaine as he tried to travel to Luton. He was jailed for eight years in November 2022.

Watford Observer: Aftab Ayub.Aftab Ayub. (Image: ERSOU)

Aris Saghir, 35, of Kenilworth Road, Luton, who was Waqas Khan’s lieutenant and Zakir Farid, 24, of Griffin Court, Luton, a courier, will be sentenced later.