No clean getaway for men who hid £260,000 of cannabis in laundry bags

Thursday, 29th March 2018

TWO midlands men who hid £260,000 worth of cannabis in a box marked ‘fragile’ and two laundry bags have been jailed.

The men were stopped by officers on the M6 near Stafford and police dogs found the cannabis in a search of their car. The stop followed observations of the pair loading the large quantity of cannabis into Tariq Khwaja’s car from his home address in Sutton Coldfield.

Following the men’s arrests, Khwaja’s address in Sutton Coldfield was searched and cannabis plants were found behind a false partition wall in an upstairs bedroom.

Khwaja, aged 45, was jailed for nine years at Stafford Crown Court, while Venelin Mihaylov, aged 33, who was said to have played a lesser role, was jailed for 15 months. Both entered guilty pleas before their trial was due to start on April 9.

The court heard that officers stopped a black Vauxhall Insignia being driven by Khwaja near junction 14 of the M6 northbound at Stafford on 13 February 2017. Mihaylov was in the passenger seat. Khwaja, who was employed as a gas fitter, had been provided with the hire car by his employers.

Police dogs searched the vehicle at Doxey, near Stafford, and found skunk cannabis worth £263,348 in a large cardboard box marked as ‘fragile’ and two laundry bags. Deals of cocaine were also discovered in the car. The box contained 10 packages of professionally heat-sealed plastic bags with an inner layer containing almost ten kilos of skunk cannabis, with an estimated street value of £100,000.

One laundry bag contained 7.9 kilos of skunk cannabis, with an estimated street value of £80,000, while the other bag contained just over 7 kilos with an estimated street value of £70,000.

Tariq Khwaja and Venelin Mihaylov. Credit: Staffordshire Police
Tariq Khwaja and Venelin Mihaylov along with the laundry bags. Credit: Staffordshire Police

Both men’s addresses were searched and at Khwaja’s house officers discovered a professional cannabis working ‘grow’ behind a false partition wall in an upstairs bedroom. Twelve healthy cannabis plants were growing beneath lamps. The yield was valued at £12,000.

A further £3,464 in cash was seized from Khwaja, whose fingerprints were found on a plastic pot, and a black bag found in the rear of the car.

Messages found on Khwaja’s mobile phone revealed that he had been street dealing both cocaine and cannabis from as far back as January 2015.

Khwaja, of Parkhill Road, Sutton Coldfield, was sentenced for possession with intent to supply cannabis and cocaine, conspiracy to supply cocaine, and producing cannabis.

Mihaylov, of Broome Avenue, Great Barr, was sentenced for possession with intent to supply cannabis.

Sentencing yesterday (Mar 28), Recorder Coke described how Khwaja had been involved in three separate drug dealing businesses. He detailed the effects that his drug dealing and others like him had on users, their families and society.

“These were serious offences and therefore deserved a serious sentence.”

Detective Inspector Lesley Fowler, of Staffordshire Police, said: “This was a significant operation involving the movement of cannabis and other drugs across the West Midlands region.

“We’re glad that Khwaja and Mihaylov will now serve time for these offences. We are working hard with our colleagues from West Midlands Police, and other Forces, and will not tolerate offenders coming into Staffordshire to peddle drugs.”

If you have information about drug-dealing in your community please contact Staffordshire Police on 101.

You can also report information about crime by contacting the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.