Two drug kingpins have been jailed after police raided their unit, where £17.2 million of cocaine was in blocks of Gouda cheese.

Saleem Chaudhri was spotted by Lancashire Police driving to the unit in a Toyota he had picked up from a drugs courier.

Officers followed him and found 217kg of cocaine, imported from Belgium, at the Old Fire Station in Blackburn.

Chaudhri was arrested on May 3, 2023, just hours before he was about to hand over 67kg of drugs to one courier, who was arrested on the same day, and 63kg to another.

Two months later, Rieddul Mohabath was arrested.

He had been directing couriers involved in the cocaine distribution operation and was found to have Class A drugs and “a significant amount of cash” in properties in the northeast.

Investigators later discovered Chaudhri agreed to sell over two tonnes of cocaine worth over £70 million.

In a video posted by Lancashire Police, officers found bags of cocaine concealed within blocks of Gouda cheese.

Police are seen cutting open cardboard boxes with a knife and finding them filled with cheese.

The officers then carefully claw away the Gouda and find blocks of drugs.

More cocaine was found in black bin bags at the unit and police later found almost £10,000 in cash at Chaudhri’s home.

Lancashire Police tweeted: “Say cheese! This is the moment Saleem Chaudhri and Rieddul Mohabath said ‘cheese’ to our custody camera after concealing cocaine inside blocks of Gouda smuggled from Belgium.

“Not a Gouda idea, if you ask us.

“Back in May 2023, we raided Chaudhri’s unit at the Old Fire Station in Blackburn and found a £17.2 million haul of cocaine ready to be distributed to the UK.

“Some of the drugs were hidden in blocks of cheese, but no problem for our sharp officers who got to work uncovering it.

“An investigation was launched, uncovering money laundering and other criminal exploits before it all crumbled like feta.

“Our evidence shows that between September 2022 and May 2023, Chaudhri agreed to sell over 2000 kilos of cocaine worth over £70 million.

“And luckily we didn’t take Chaudhri’s curd that he was acting alone – our investigation identified that Mohabath was directing couriers, storing cash and concealing drugs as part of the organised crime gang.

“On Friday Chaudhri was sentenced to 27 and a half years. Mohabath was today [April 12] jailed for 16 years.

“Meaning the pair won’t be brie – sorry – free for a very long time.”

The pair pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply cocaine with Chaudhri also pleading guilty to money laundering.

 

Detective Sergeant Haydn Sibley of Lancashire Police said:

“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.

“When we arrested Chaudhri, you could see by the look on his face that his world had crumbled and that is reflected by the significant sentence he has received today.

“I welcome the sentences that both Chaudhri and Mohabath received and I hope they send out a clear message about what you should expect to happen when we catch you supplying Class A drugs in Lancashire.”