Smugglers used drone to drop thousands of pounds worth of drugs and contraband into prison near Rugby - The Rugby Observer

Smugglers used drone to drop thousands of pounds worth of drugs and contraband into prison near Rugby

Rugby Editorial 30th Apr, 2024 Updated: 30th Apr, 2024   0

SMUGGLERS who used a drone to drop thousands of pounds worth of drugs and illegal contraband into a prison near Rugby have been jailed.

Husband and wife Sajad Hashimi and Zerka Maranay were responsible for flying drugs including heroin, cocaine and cannabis into HMP Onley on at least 72 occasions between August 2022 and October 2023.

The couple, from Camden in London, also dropped steroids, tobacco, mobile phones, SIM cards and phone chargers into the prison near Dunchurch and Willoughby – and into 10 other prisons and young offender institutes around the country.

They have been jailed for a combined total of more than seven years.

Hashimi, 27, and Maranay, 28, were arrested in October 2023 following an investigation led by Northamptonshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Team (SOCT) into the increased drone incursions at HMP Onley.

The investigation identified Hashimi as being responsible for more than 100 incursions into 11 prisons and young offender institutes across 78 separate dates between August 2022 and October 2023 – at least 72 of them at HMP Onley.

It also proved that 28-year-old Maranay assisted Hashmini by hiring at least 20 cars costing around £17,000, which he used to travel to and from the prison sites.

Maranay used her bank account to launder nearly £50,000, which her husband had been paid for piloting the drones and delivering the contraband at pre-arranged drop points.

Hashimi was already under investigation for similar offences by the Metropolitan Police, which executed a search warrant at his home in August 2023.

A drone and drugs were recovered, and Hashimi was arrested on suspicion of the possession with intent to supply cocaine and cannabis and conveying a List A article into a prison.

The authorities had been alerted to Hashimi’s activities following the recovery of a drone which had crashed within the grounds of a prison in Suffolk in July 2023.

Attached to the drone was a package containing heroin and other items which had a combined prison value of up to £19,500.

Data confirmed the drone had been responsible for flights at seven different HMP sites.

Hashimi acquired another drone and continued flying packages into prisons – and in August 2023, Kent Police attended HMP Maidstone following reports of a drone flying over the prison.

A car which had been hired by Maranay the previous day was found by officers parked nearby, and Hashimi was stopped in the area in possession of the vehicle’s key.

A search of the car recovered numerous drugs packages while a drone and controller were found hidden under a nearby van. Hashimi was arrested for being concerned in the supply of Class A and Class B drugs.

Multiple packages were recovered from inside prison grounds, including cannabis estimated to be worth up to around £75,000 once delivered inside the prison.

The drone was found to have flown at seven HMP sites.

Enquiries again showed Hashimi had travelled to the prisons in cars, which had been hired by his wife, on each occasion to deliver the packages.

In October 2023, Hashimi was arrested, and his phones showed he had been communicating with prisoners to arrange 19 flights between August and September that year. Maranay was arrested the following day.

The couple were charged with conspiring to convey prohibited articles into prisons. At Northampton Crown Court, Hashimi pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply Class A and Class B drugs and List B prohibited articles into prisons. Maranay pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiring to convey List B prohibited articles into prisons.

Hasmini was jailed for a total of six years and one month, and was issued a five-year Serious Crime Prevention Order which will come into effect once he is released from prison.

Maranay was sentenced to a total of 15 months in prison for her part in the enterprise.

Det Insp Carrie Powers of Northamptonshire Police SOCT said: “This has been a very complex, detailed investigation – the largest of its kind for our force.

“Tackling and preventing drug harm and serious organised crime are matters of priority for the force and we will continue to act to disrupt drug supply associated with organised gangs, who prey on the most vulnerable people in our society and bring misery to others.”

Prisons and Probation Minister Edward Argar added: “Anti-drone no-fly zones – along with drug detection dogs and airport-style security – are helping us lock up organised criminals and crack down on drugs behind bars.

“This sentencing is a warning to those who think they won’t be caught. We will find you and ensure you face the full force of the law.”

See above to watch a video of one of the drone drops.

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