Cocaine worth half a million pounds found in secret compartment of 62-year-old's Honda Civic
Police found cocaine worth over half-a-million pounds hidden in a secret compartment of a car they stopped on the M62.
Saeed Malik, 62, was jailed for seven years over the discovery of the high-purity class A drug when they stopped his vehicle near the junction for Tingley.
Leeds Crown Court heard officers stopped Malik's Honda Civic close to junction 28 in the westbound carriageway on April 14 last year.
Tom Storey, prosecuting, said the vehicle was searched and 7kgs of cocaine were found in a compartment beneath the boot.
The cocaine was in seven blocks and wrapped in plastic bags. It was of a purity of more than 85 per cent.
The prosecutor said the drug had a wholesale value of £345,000 but if diluted and sold at street level it was worth around £538,000.
Three mobile phones were also recovered from the vehicle.
One of the phones was encrypted, indicating Malik's involvement with organised criminals.
Papers containing addresses in the south of England were also found.
Malik had boxes of food and water in the vehicle and claimed he had intended to drive to London to give them to a charity.
The defendant said he had never seen the cocaine before.
He told officers he had set off from his home in Bradford to deliver the charity items but turned around when he reached Northamptonshire as he was feeling unwell.
Automatic number plate recognition cameras showed he had reached London, driven on the M25 and went to the Croydon area before returning to West Yorkshire.
Examination of the phones revealed he had been in contact with others making similar journeys since August 2019.
Messages contained addresses and postcodes and instructions on what time he should arrive at locations.
The texts also included the serial numbers of bank notes.
Mr Storey said: "The prosecution say the inference to be drawn is that, clearly, he had an enormous amount of trust and was a tried and tested courier."
"The defendant had encrypted mobile phones showing close links to the higher levels of this drugs trade."
Malik, of Southfield Lane, Bradford, pleaded guilty to possession of a class A drug with intent to supply.
He has previous convictions for driving offences and perverting the course of justice.
Robin Howat, mitigating, said Malik has no previous convictions for drug offences.
He said: "He got involved in this enterprise which is far beyond anything he has ever been involved with before.
"It is an unusual turn for a man of 62 turning to this sort of offending.
"He accepts that he was a courier and a trusted courier at that."
Sentencing Malik, Judge Neil Clark said: "You must have known something of the scale of this."