UK: Mosque chairman tried to smuggle £70K of ecstasy tablets

DHL couriers became suspicious over consignment of 'chocolate boxes' sent by Hassan Akhtar

Sunday 11 August, READING - A 64-year-old former mosque chairman has been found guilty of trying to smuggle £70,000 worth of drugs in chocolate boxes out of the country.

Hassan Akhtar, 64, of Cornwall Close, Maidenhead, tried to export more than 5,000 ecstasy tablets to Pakistan with a street value believed to be around £70,000.

Akhtar, who was chairman of the trust that runs Maidenhead Mosque, sneaked the drugs into tubs of Celebrations and sent them via DHL – but a smart courier who collected the parcel questioned the value of the consignment against the cost of shipping and found the drugs after he opened the boxes to check.

Police were then called and Akhtar was identified from CCTV footage. He was arrested on February 27 this year and charged the following day.

He was found guilty on Tuesday by a unanimous jury of one count being knowingly concerned in evasion prohibition/restriction on the exporting of a class A drug following a five-day trial at Reading Crown Court.

He is due to be sentenced at the same court on September 2.

In a statement released after the verdict, Maidenhead Mosque secretary Sajid Khan said: 'We are deeply saddened to learn that a former member of the trust has been found to be involved in activities which are contrary to our beliefs and values.'

'Mr Akhtar resigned shortly after he was arrested, which was duly accepted.'

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Sergeant Rob Hood of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: 'This successful conviction follows a detailed investigation by Thames Valley’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit.'

'This case demonstrates the lengths that organised crime groups will go to, to ensure the trafficking of their illicit wares, both into and out of the country.'

'We hope that this conviction will send a clear message that Thame Valley Police will continue to pursue drug dealers on any level to reduce the gain to criminal networks and the extensive harm caused by the illicit drug trade in our communities.'

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