Two men have been jailed after attempting to smuggle 600 kilos of cannabis hidden within crates of broccoli.
From left to right: Lee Huseyin and Hazar Koz
Hazar Koz, 41, of North Finchley, and Lee Huseyin, 52, of Stepney Green, were identified as principal members of an organised crime group.
Messages between the two revealed that, over several months, they had smuggled over a tonne of class B drugs, with a wholesale value of £2 million, from Spain and Morocco into the UK by concealing them within consignments of fruit and vegetables. Koz was also convicted of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm, after planning to seriously injure a rival.
The investigation was led by officers from the Organised Crime Partnership – a joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service unit.
Koz and Huseyin discussed their conspiracy on Encrochat – the encrypted communications platform taken down after a Europe-wide law enforcement investigation in 2020.
Koz, using the handle Obsceneraptor, applied his extensive knowledge of the fruit and vegetable wholesale trade in an attempt to make the ventures appear legitimate, following established routes from overseas to the capital.
Huseyin would handle the logistics, ensuring that vehicles arrived safely at London markets and the drugs unloaded ahead of onward supply to other parts of the UK.
In June 2020, a Lithuanian lorry was stopped by police on the outskirts of Belfast. It was searched and found to contain 585 bags of cannabis concealed in low quality broccoli.
Encrochat messages between Koz and Huseyin later showed that they had arranged the importation and planned to supply the drugs to a criminal gang in Northern Ireland.
A month prior, after discovering that an associate had made £500,000 using his contacts, Koz had planned to take revenge, asking another Encrochat user whether they had “anyone to fire a couple of shots” below the waist.
The pair were arrested by OCP officers in May 2022 and both charged with offences relating to the importation of cannabis. Koz was separately charged with conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm.
Huseyin and Koz pleaded guilty to multiple drugs offences at Harrow Crown Court on 30 October 2022 and 16 February 2023 respectively. Koz was later convicted for his role in commissioning the shooting of a rival.
At the same court yesterday (10 November), Koz was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment and Huseyin was sentenced to six years.
Andrew Tickner, Manager of the Organised Crime Partnership, said:
“These men ran a large scale drug importation operation, brazenly discussed their criminality on the Encrochat platform in the belief they would never be caught.
“Koz ordering the shooting of a rival demonstrates the ruthlessness of criminals involved in the illegal drugs trade, and the violence that fuelled by their activities – be it in London or anywhere else in the UK.
“We continue to work tirelessly to protect the UK public from organised crime groups like this one.”
11 November 2023