Heaviest sentences, each of 22 years, on the gang’s ringleader, 44-year-old Jafar Hajebrahim; and his associate, ex-soldier and fireman Alan Austin, 55, of Barnstaple.
five members of a gang jailed for a total of 72 years for conspiring to smuggle £1 million worth of cocaine into the UK were told their activities were “evil” by a judge at Bournemouth Crown Court. Judge Christopher Harvey Clark told them: “Almost every day in this court, I see the consequences of heroin and cocaine addiction. “It wrecks and destroys people’s lives. It leads these days to most offences of robbery, burglary and theft being committed in our society.” Hajebrahim’s nephew, 24-year-old Poria Abraham of Charminster in Bournemouth, was sentenced to 12 years; and the man described as a “go-between”, Iranian Ali Tavakolinia, 39, also of Charminster, was sentenced to 11 years. Drugs courier and single parent Louise Brindle, 33, from Christchurch, was sentenced to five years. She had her 13-year-old son with her when Customs officers at Portsmouth found 10 kilos of cocaine hidden in the car on the pair’s return from Spain in December 2006. The sentences were the culmination of a complex three-year police and customs investigation and 14-week trial at Bournemouth Crown Court. Three weeks into the trial, Hajebrahim changed his plea to guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence against him. The other four were found guilty on April 8. The prosecution case was that Hajebrahim, who first came to the UK from Iran as an illegal immigrant in the 1980s, was at the heart of the conspiracy to buy cocaine from South America and import it into England via Spain. The gang used Vauxhall Corsa cars because the drugs could be hidden in the petrol tanks. Father-of-two Hajebrahim is thought to be the first criminal to be successfully extradited to the UK from Brazil, where he owned properties and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. Austin, who had been in business and owned properties in Bournemouth with Hajebrahim, was described as “controlling and cunning” by the prosecution. Abraham was heavily involved in laundering the drugs money and had taken Brindle to Spain to “show her the ropes”. Senior investigating officer Det Chief Inspector John Crossland of Dorset Police said after the case: “This is an excellent example of what can be achieved through police forces sharing resources and intelligence and working with our partnership agencies.”