Warrants issued as members of drug smuggling gang flee before sentencing
Four men have been jailed for a total of almost 50 years for their part in a “well organised” methylamphetamine drug trafficking operation that was uncovered by a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.
Majid Rasoolzadeh, Jan Pasulka, Jan Stinic and Dusan Staruch were sentenced last week at Manchester Crown Court after being found guilty of smuggling the Class A drug between the UK, Turkey and Japan.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Rasoolzadeh and Pasulka – who were jailed in their absence for 16 years and 12 years respectively – after they absconded following their three-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.
Stinic and Staruch received prison sentences of ten and a half years and eight and a half years respectively.
Sentencing the gang, Judge Martin Walsh said: “This was a well organised conspiracy to export crystal meth into Japan. The drug had almost certainly been produced in Iran and smuggled into Turkey in readiness for onward supply.
“Crystal meth is a highly addictive and destructive Class A drug. There is a significant demand for this drug in Japan. The potential profit from this illicit trade to those who organised it was enormous.”
The gang’s offending came to light after Staruch was stopped at Leeds Bradford Airport by Border Force officers on July 16, 2014, after returning from Turkey.
A search of his suitcase revealed almost 2.5kg of methylamphetamine hidden in the lining, with a street value of around 1.75 million euro.
NCA investigators discovered he had flown to Turkey only the day before, and Stinic – who lived with him at the same address – was also on the same flight.
Mobile phones and a notebook seized at the address revealed details of further trips they had taken to Japan and Turkey.
NCA officers believe the gang smuggled the Class A drugs through the UK because they thought the detection risks in transporting the drug directly from Turkey to Japan would be higher.
Further inquiries revealed that two Slovakians from the same gang – Miroslav Gonda and Zdenko Topolan – has been arrested in Japan while trying to smuggle methylamphetamine into the country.
They were sentenced in 2014 for seven and nine years respectively.
Ian Revell, NCA Operations, said: “This gang was clearly responsible for transporting a vast quantity of drugs through the UK to Japan and profiting from their criminal activity.
“Stinic and Staruch have now been stopped from enabling the supply of this dangerous drug, which fuels violence and other criminal activity.
“While this is a great result, we won’t stop until the other two men are caught and made to serve their sentences. Working closely with Border Force we will continue to crack down on drugs being smuggled in and out of the UK.”