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A former taxi driver who became a pawn in a drug conspiracy was unable to walk away without consequences.
Amar Al-Soralmi, 31, worked for slick criminal operator Ahmed Sabbagh-Parry.
The heavily built and shaven-headed gang boss, 37, lived in a luxury pad which cost £1,000 per month in rent, and had access to “numerous vehicles, all paid for from the profits of the heroin and cocaine trade”.
Sabbagh-Parry had been a car dealer in Ealing, London, but sold up his business and moved to Liverpool, where he organised the supply of Class A and B drugs on a commercial scale, destined for sale to addicts on the streets of Cardiff.
He was later described in court as a “part-time car trader and a career drug dealer”, reports The Liverpool Echo.
In the words of Judge Louise Brandon, who sentenced the group, Sabbagh-Parry and his “right hand man” Neil Christopher, from Dingle, Liverpool, ran a “large, professional, sophisticated, well organised and planned” network and took “great care” to avoid detection.
Al-Soralmi, on the other hand, was “placed” in the Welsh capital by Sabbagh-Parry and used to run the Cardiff end of the conspiracy, also on occasion acting as a courier ferrying cash and drugs between the two cities.
The men were brought down as part of a Merseyside Police investigation dubbed “Operation Chicago”, involving a year long surveillance operation.
Al-Soralmi was the last defendant to face sentence after a lengthy series of trials and hearings, which had been further delayed by his decision to flee to Egypt after his initial arrest.
What emerged was a picture of a man who found the pressure of the criminal life took its toll.
Stephen Parry, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court on Friday: “By October 2018 there must have been some problems in the group as Ahmed Sabbagh-Parry travelled to Cardiff with another male who the prosecution say was placed down in Cardiff to oversee and supervise Amar Al-Soralmi.
“Further evidence of the problem came at about the end of October when the group were consistently unable to reach Al-Soralmi by phone. He had taken himself away from Cardiff.
“Ahmed Sabbagh-Parry was extremely keen to get hold of him, calling repeatedly and getting others to try and locate him as well. Al-Soralmi did not re-surface until November 9, 2018.
“He was collected from his girlfriend’s address in Widnes and taken to Liverpool.
“On this day Ahmed Sabbagh-Parry returned to Liverpool from Cardiff and the two men met in the Toxteth area.
“It is accepted by the prosecution that by now Al-Soralmi was in serious trouble with Sabbagh-Parry and the account he gives in his defence statement regarding a beating is accepted.
“That evening he had been seen at Whiston Hospital with injuries to his chest and upper back.
“He gave a false explanation of martial arts training to the doctors.
“Therefore, with punishment inflicted, Al-Soralmi was sent back to Cardiff the following day.”
The crime ring was brought down on November 20, when officers decided to step in and stopped a BMW car driven by Al-Soralmi, with fellow drug-dealer Ibrahim Mustafa in the passenger seat.
Inside, 33 wraps of cannabis and a number of mobile phones were seized.
Police then raided the address Al-Soralmi was staying in on Clifton Street, Cardiff, where £1,460 in cash and knives were recovered.
The search also revealed a set of scales bearing traces of cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
Al-Soralmi and Mustafa were released pending further investigation, which gave Al-Soralmi the chance to flee the country.
He did not fly back to the UK until July, 2022, although the court heard his return was voluntary and he made arrangements to hand himself in to the police.
Shabbagh-Parry, by this point, was already beginning a 19-year-prison sentence after a jury convicted him of conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine and cannabis.
The media were unable to report on his sentencing hearing, held on April 12 last year, due to reporting restrictions linked to other upcoming trials.
The court found he was in control of the crime ring, despite Shabbagh-Parry suggesting his role was “not much higher” than 35-year-old Christopher.
On that day Judge Brandon told the organised crime boss: “It is overwhelmingly clear from the evidence that I have seen during the course of this and the previous trials that you organised and directed the movement of individuals and drugs on a daily basis, including Mr Christopher.
“It was you and not Mr Christopher who put Mr A-Soralmi back in line after he went off the radar.
“You were never far from the safehouses when drugs were about to move and it was you who was in contact with all the significant players when drugs were moving.
“I find that yours was the leading role for the purposes of the sentencing guidelines and that your role was above each other individual in the conspiracy. You were right at the top.”
Others involved in the conspiracy included 49-year-old Alan Edwards, of Fairfield Street, Fairfield, Liverpool, who provided the group with the use of a property on Croxteth Road to adulterate drugs for onward supply to Cardiff.
That safe house, and another on Banner Street, Picton, showed the group cut large quantities of drugs for supply by it’s own dealers, effectively acting as “its own wholesaler”.
During the period the group were being watched by police there were 14 trips between Liverpool and Cardiff.
One trip, resulted in a seizure of crack-cocaine and heroin totalling around 400g, which the court heard was probably a “typical amount” for each trip.
These are the sentences passed for those involved:
- Ahmed Sabbagh-Parry was jailed for 19 years for supplying cocaine, heroin and cannabis
- Neil Christopher was jailed for 15 years for supplying cocaine, heroin and cannabis
- Alan Edwards was jailed for nine years for supplying cocaine, heroin and cannabis
- Wadah Alwi was jailed for nine years for supplying cocaine, heroin and cannabis
- Matthew Jennings was jailed for 16 months for supplying cocaine and cannabis
- Usama Shamsan was handed 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, for supplying cannabis
- Gamal Hamad was handed two years in prison suspended for two years for supplying cannabis
- Ibrahim Mustafa was jailed for 30 months for supplying cannabis
- Amar Al-Soralmi was jailed for 40 months for supplying cocaine, heroin and cannabis
Passing sentence, Judge Brandon told Sabbagh-Parry: “You played your part in bringing misery in the form of Class A drugs which you orchestrated the supply of.
“You then cynically reaped reward by causing suffering to countless lives, not just of those who take the drugs you supplied but on the wider community whose lives are blighted by those who commit crime to pay for your drugs.
“You did all this out of greed. It is selfishness beyond contemplation.”
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