Drug plot wife jailed

A Ravensthorpe woman has been jailed for her part in a foiled plot to bring cocaine into the UK from Ecuador.

Friday, 2nd August 2013, 10:14 am
Nushian Taj

Nushian Taj was sentenced to three-and-a-half years after she admitted conspiracy to import Class A drugs.

The 27-year-old, of Fir Avenue, had arranged bank transfers to buy flights for her husband.

Leeds Crown Court heard her co-accused, Mohammed Ilyas and William Espitia-Bueno, arranged for the drugs to be carried through airports in both countries – but the couriers were caught twice.

Prosecutor Simon Kealey said the pair met with Assam Khan at a petrol station in Bradford on September 10, 2011.

He flew to Ecuador three days later using tickets paid for with money transferred by his wife, Taj.

Officials found cocaine in Khan’s suitcase when he tried to return home, and he was arrested at Quito airport.

He is now serving eight years in prison in Ecuador.

Taj had a baby after her arrest, which is being cared for by her husband’s family.

Sentencing her last Friday, Judge Peter Collier QC said: “She is paying a very heavy price for having assisted her husband, it is said with some degree of reluctance, to help him discharge a debt to Ilyas in relation to a motor car.”

The court heard Ilyas and Espitia-Bueno made a second unsuccessful attempt to import cocaine from South America, this time involving two men from Manchester.

The would-be smugglers were caught at Lima airport in October with around 3kg of cocaine in a suitcase.

Both Ilyas and Espitia-Bueno admitted conspiracy to import Class A drugs.

The court heard the pair were already serving jail terms imposed earlier this year for conspiracy to supply cocaine after two seizures of drugs en route to Keighley from London in August 2011.

Ilyas, 33, of Cumberland Road, Bradford, received eight years and three months for the earlier offence. He had three years and nine months added consecutively to make a total of 12 years, after admitting conspiracy to import.

Espitia-Bueno, 36, of Rye Lane, London, had been sentenced to six years previously. He had five years consecutive added for conspiracy to import making a total of 11 years.

After the hearing, Temporary Det Insp Phil Little said police seized more than £25,000 of cash and assets as part of the operation.

“These latest sentences should be an indication of the lengths we will go to pursue those involved in drugs activity,” he said.

“Each of these individuals knowingly played a part in the transporting Class A drugs from South America into the UK.

“As a result of their actions, three other men are currently serving substantial sentences in Peru and Ecuador.”